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THE chief part of this book has been delivered by the 
author to the students of the New College, Edinburgh, 
in his course of Ecclesiastical and Pastoral Theology. 
It is now published because he believes that when 
used as a text-book it may He more useful to them ; 
and also because, so far as he is aware, no book cover 
ing the whole field of homiletical and pastoral theology 
has appeared in this country, at least for many years. 
In the United States such works have lately been very 
abundant ; and it is somewhat singular that though 
both preaching and pastoral work are prosecuted among 
us with unusual earnestness, no complete book on the 
subject should have been issued in Scotland. 

The critical reader will be pleased to remark that 
though the subject of the Church is treated in the 
author s class, both theoretically and practically, the 


present volume is restricted to the practical side of the 
question. The Divine institution and the permanence 
of the Christian ministry are assumed as proved ; the 
question here considered being simply, How are the 
duties of the ministry to be best discharged ? It is but 
little that a teacher can contribute to the efficiency of 
the ministry ; it will be to the author a high gratifica 
tion if this volume shall render even a slight service to 
the cause. 




Purposes, for which ministry appointed Instrumentality for ac- 
comjlishing them, the Word Apparent inadequacy Distrust 
of it >y the world Craving for other weapons Ritualism Place 
of external influences in the gospel Acquaintance with Scripture 
the gieat end of theological training Connexion of ministry 
which he Word gives it : 1. AUTHORITY AND POWER Contrast 
"betweei pulpit in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Delilahs 
in the tamp Testimony of Art to power of Bible truth Testi 
mony o: Literature ; 2. ORIGINALITY First impression different 
The iible never exhausted Unlike any other book in this 
Fertility and freshness of Nature like fertility and freshness of 
the Bibe Vinet s remarks on novelty (note) ; 3. VARIETY 
Many poachers leave out great part of Bible Great variety of 
Bible look of Genesis Breadth as well as intensity needed 
for our caching Exaggeration and reaction Complementary 
truths tobe presented ; 4. DURABILITY Two senses : Durability 
of this intitution contrasted with other institutions Durability 
of impresion Power of God s Word over the conscience. Ten 
dency of some modern preachers to appeal to sense of right and 
true for athority Want of power of such appeals Recognition 
of huma. feelings in their place desirable Charge of fostering 
intolerane Need of the preacher s soul being penetrated with 
thetrutl . 1-19 


No man iiketli this honour to himself Manner of call different 
from tlit to Old Testament priesthood Internal fitness founda 
tion of ;he call Function of the Church and of the individual in 
formii? the ministerial office Personal relation between Christ 
and hi minister Implied in : 1. Name ; 2. Nature of the work ; 


3. The "gift" of Christ ; 4. Analogy of Old Testament prophets ; 
5. Analogy of Apostles ; 6. Promises to ministers Notion of 
call to ministry not fanatical No church can make an uncalled 
man a true minister Analogy of a " calling "Three elements, 
inclination, ability, opportunity Christian interpretation of 
them necessary Leaning towards ministry not equivalent to call 
The philanthropy of the ministry Special qualifications : 
1. Conversion ; 2. Sympathy with Christ in his enterprise as 
Saviour ; 3. Readiness for appropriate habits of life and modes 
of service Willingness to make ministry one s life-work Spirit 
of the ministry Literary and philosophical studies do not foster 
it Danger of them ; 4. Intellectual qualifications Capacity of 
study Exceptional cases occasionally occur Description of 
Such men have true education Most powerful ministers men of 
great intellect and acquirement ; 5. Physical qualifications 
Bodily strength, voice, lungs, nerve ; 6. Social qualifications 
" Winsomeness" The minister a peacemaker Temper Com 
plaints of congregations against unsuitable men Manner of/ 
solving doubts as to one s call, / 20-38 


Preaching an ordinance of New Testament Instances in the (Jd 
occasional Our Lord at Nazareth John the Baptist Preachhg 
not resorted to by founders of philosophical schools Chrijc s 
system most effective Remark of Kidder Expressions use^to 

denote preaching : 1. EvayyeAtjJw j 2. KarayyeXAa) j 3. K7jpva4) ; 

4. AiaXe -yojuai ; 5. AaAe w Preaching not formally defined jle- 
mark of Vinet Two purposes of preaching, instruction hid 
persuasion Enduring scope for instruction Persuasion the er- 
minus ad quern Vindicates the permanence of pulpit Mocprn 

crusade against pulpit Objections : 1. Tractarian dislike- 


interfering with predominance of Sacraments Fundametal 
difference between Popish and Protestant pulpit ; 2. Said to 
overlay worship How far justArises from abuse of pulfit, 
which ought to foster worship ; 3. Unnecessary, owing to oter 
means of instruction, etc. ; 4. Impertinent, claiming protecion 
of authority ; 5. Unworthy of the age Poor and powerlea 
Specimens of accusations by "A Dear Hearer" Objectionsito 
Scottish preaching by Modern Calvinist ; 6. Objection statedtn 
" Jane Eyre" Sifting of these objections True state of the qo- 
tion often misunderstood Purpose of ministry as living ageiw 
forgotten Difference between subversive and reforming criticish. 
Duty of young preachers Credit of a divine institution 5 
intrusted to them Great need of pains and prayer, . . 1 39-55 




Wisdom of the institution shown by its effects Apostolic preach 
ing Artless and simple Apostles founded no "school" of elo 
quence Apostolic preachers Few great preachers in second and 
third centuries Apologetic period, persecutions, philosophical 
tendencies " Pedagogus " of Clement of Alexandria Important 
service of Origen in third century Brilliancy of pulpit in fourth 
and *fifth centuries Latin and Greek orators Some causes of 
this Circumstances of the Church Influence of Christian ladies 
Educated men abandoning other professions Defects Great 
want of doctrinal clearness Wherein they excelled Augustine 
and Chrysostom Pulpit of Middle Ages poor Occasional excep 
tionsDevelopment of Ritualism destroyed the pulpit Modes 
of stimulating the sensational appetite Miracle and passion 
plays Pioneers of Reformation great preachers Wy cliff e and 
Savonarola Reformation Pulpic its great weapon Triumph of 
the pulpit Advance on Patristic and Mediaeval pulpit Higher 
platform The glad news of Kingdom Rejoicing element 
GERMAN pulpit Decay under Rationalism A few eminent 
German preachers FRENCH pulpit Protestant and Popish 
Age of Louis xiv. Influence of Bourdaloue Other orators- 
Excellencies and defects How appreciated by late Mr. Jay 
ENGLISH pulpit Sermons of Reformers, of Nonconformists, of 
Church preachers of seventeenth century Dryness and coldness 
of eighteenth The revival under Wesley and Whitefield Modern 
types SCOTCH pulpit Defect in language Strength and weak 
ness of Scotch pulpit Two types, Blair and Erskines Modern 
preaching Chalmers AMERICAN preachers Beecher Alleged 
decay of the pulpit, how far true and false, .... 56-75 


1. First quality, Scriptural Central truths Man, lost sinner 
Righteousness of God Salvation by works and by grace Work 
of Saviour Of Spirit Holiness : Surrounding truths Ethical 
teaching needed. 2. Clearness Advice of Guthrie " Northern 
Farmer " English bishop Circumlocutions Hazy thinking 
Pains to make clear John Foster. 3. Adaptation All capaci 
ties in a congregation Our Lord s discourses Getting to a 
higher level. 4. Arresting Preacher s own experience Effect 
of a touch Getting hold of what is stirring in_the heart. 5. 



Variety of faculties Reason soon exhausted in uneducated 
Logic steeped in emotion Imagination Feelings Conscience 
Example from Epistle to Romans. 6. Illustration The mind 
likes contrasts and resemblances Dr. Guthrie Our Lord s love 
of illustration Adapted to all classes True object of illustra 
tionAnecdote of Spanish painter, 76-94 


1. Preacher must be interested Analogy of a fountain Effects of 
spiritual digestion Fresh interest not always reproduced. 2. 
Earnestness Realizing solemn position of audience Solemn 
nature of revealed truth Garrick and the preacher Artificial 
earnestness Philanthropy common and evangelical Professor 
Blackie s definition Fire and care Anecdote of William Burns. 
3. A/ectianateness Not in mere words but in soul Compatible 
with indignation God s method to draw Painful truth Spirit 
of opposition Scottish Christianity defective in love. 4. Sym 
pathy Great difference of circumstances Sympathy not equiva 
lent to indulgence St. Paul Chalmers Our Lord Need too 
of sympathy with God. 5. Unction Difficult to define The 
aroma of various qualities Unction not unctuousness, . . 95-112 


Two kinds Habitual and special Experience shows need of for 
mer Remark of Abbe St. Cyran A high ideal ought to be 
formed "Well enough," not enough. I. INTELLECTUAL pre 
paration Discipline of mind Skill in investigation of truth 
Power to use one s own powers Benefit in after life Anecdote of 
Sir J. Reynolds Consolation in obscure situations Intellectual 
stores The Bible Bishop Bossuet and the Bible Threefold 
study of Scripture (1) Personal ; (2) Critical ; (3) Homiletical 
Seed-corn to be prepared Preacher s mind organific Mr. 
Spurgeon and the daily newspaper Mr. Jay of Bath on anec 
dotes. II. SPIRITUAL preparation Keeping soul in contact with 
eternal realities M Cheyne Treatises promoting spirituality 
Extract from Baxter Faithful service. III. PHYSICAL Con 
nexion between good preaching and good health Mr. Beecher 
on invalid ministers Effect of physical languor on young Three 
organs needing attention Stomach, nerves, lungs Saturday in 
the study The speakers that move the crowd, . . 113-132 




Prejudice against rules of style Milton s remark Definition of 
style Its connexion with thought Conversational style Ad 
vantage of Its theoretical capacity Dialogues of our great 
fictional writers Our Lord s style Great preachers Qualities 
of good style 1. Clearness. Aiming at nothing in particular" 
The most accurate words not always clearest Words in common 
use Anecdote of Archbishop Tillotson The magniloquent rhe 
torical style; 2. Force Proverbs Thinking deeply leads to 
speaking forcibly Speculation not favourable to force ; 3. Ful 
nessSpecially needed in speaking Analogy of digestion Our 
Lord s habit of expansion Burke Chalmers Methods of ex 
pansion ; 4. Beauty Its place The Bible Bunyan, Milton, 
Cowper Pains in style Franklin, Addison, Pitt, Bright, Gib 
bon, Brougham, 133-151 


Use of texts from Scripture Four Reasons for No meaning to be 
attached but that meant by Holy Spirit Fantastic explanations 
revolting Dishonouring to God Divine direction How texts 
obtained Thomas Spencer Need of consulting the original A 
short text Various objects to be kept in view Great subjects 
Remark of Dr. J. W. Alexander Need of methodizing power 
Remark of Dr. Shedd Skeletons and commentaries Archbishop 
Whately on skeletons Order and disorder Remark of Theremin 
Too great length Tediousness easily avoided Limited capa 
city of giving attention Exceptions Two hours of Jonathan Ed 
wards Amount of inattention prevalent Remarks of Taylor 
Idea of the audience should be ever present Remarks of Vinet 
Alleged trouble Lay-preachers Trained preachers should be 
superior, 152-171 


Aristotle s four parts of an oration : I. INTRODUCTION Need of 
Reason for Various kinds 1. The Context The student s 
method With whom effective ; 2. Connecting text with wider 
subject ; 3. An analogy ; 4. An anecdote ; 5. A difference ; 
6. Something special ; 7. Something strange ; 8. Dramatic 
Method Instances of all. II. PROPOSITION Instance, Dr. 



Chalmers. III. PROOF Divisions, purpose of Often formal 
and useless Claude s essay Three general rules as to number, 
arrangement, statement Texts and subjects Texts with their 
own division Leading and subordinate statements Order of 
time and of nature A spects of certain texts Illustrations of a 
general principle Division of subjects Rules of little avail 
Claude. IV. CONCLUSION Specially to be attended to Cicero s 
rule Inferences or appeal The golden opportunity Various 
questions as to conclusions, 172-195 



Object of lecture Context very important Combination of the 
past and the present Antiquarianism to be avoided Introduc 
tion Advantages of expository preaching Disadvantages and 
difficulties False conceptions of a lecture Need of analytical 
and synthetical power Rev. Daniel Moore on Puritan lecturers 
German expositors Passages suggesting their own division, 
Psalm i. Natural order of topics, 2 Cor. v. 1-8 Difficult pas 
sages Historical passages Series of observations Practical 
view Lecturing not always edifying Robert Hall Passages 
suitable for lectures Books of Old Testament New Testament 

. Selected chapters Biographies Connected subjects " Run 
ning Commentary" Matthew Henry Lecturing on whole books 
Less scope for oratory Ample scope for usefulness, . . 196-212 


Authorities quoted by Dr. Kidder Sermons not Avritten at first 
Extempore remarks Chrysostom and Augustine Sermons of 
others committed Practice of reading Bishop Burnet s account 
of its origin Charles ii. s decree against it Its progress and 
abuse Sir Roger de Coverley in the Spectator. 1. Reading 
Advantages Drawbacks. 2. Reciting Benefit Loss. 3. Ex 
tempore Various methods of Only one admissible M. Bautain 
on extempore preaching Regard to be had to 1. Temperament 
of preacher Suits reading in some cases Reading demands 
lively tones, style, and thought French temperament more suit 
able to reciting Massillon Bourdaloue Other temperaments 
to extemporaneous Robert Hall Instances of failure and the 
cause ; 2. Subjects of sermons If elaborate or delicate, reading 
necessary ; 3. Audiences Professional, accustomed to attend, 
reading suits Advice of Dr. Chalmers to young preachers- 
Delivery, what it implies The preacher s great opportunity . 213-230 




Nothing to be lost Anecdote of Thomson s reading of the " Sea 
sons" Bishop Berkeley s question Public taste A living 
agency designed by our Lord Other provisions might have been 
made Artificial rules not to be given Passage from Faust Be 
natural Manner of a little child a model Rules needed for 
helping nature 1. The Voice Adolphe Monod The Presby 
terian minister especially requires to cultivate the voice Vocal 
power of Anglo-Saxon race The Scotch voice Presbyterian 
service Need of relief and variety of sound False modes of 
using the voice Distinctness of articulation Monod on this 
Conventional pronunciation Old English and Scotch Respira 
tion ; 2. Action of Body Two causes of cramping Muscular 
stiffness and timidity ; 3. The Face Force of a true expression 
The eye a preaching organ Its power The heart the source of 
all true expression Adolphe Monod on the tone of conversation 
and its wonderful effect Against declaiming and pretences to 
emotion Anecdote of Talma, the French player, . . . 231-251 


Question of liturgies and free prayer Arguments on each side 
Need of great pains for extempore prayer Relation of preaching 
to worship Preaching should give the knowledge and rouse the 
feelings engaged in worship Need of enlarged views on common 
worship Directions for 1. Selection of Psalms and Hymns 
Hymnal poetry Improvement of psalmody Purpose and place 
of music in our worship ; 2. Public Reading of Scriptures 
Object didactic or devotional Art of reading Bible one of best 
gifts ; 3. Prayer Its nature Offering up desires of heart to 
God Preaching and other so-called prayers Prayer to be for 
and from congregation Individuality not admissible in public 
prayer Remarks on (}) Topics Specified by Origen Robert 
Hall s prayers ; (2) Language Simplicity indispensable Scrip 
tural expressions Addison s remark The Lord s Prayer; (3) 
Tone Plaintive and fervent Union of contrition and gladness 
Faults in prayer Excessive length Anecdote of Whitefield 
Inaccurate quotation Expletives and redundancies " To draw 
near "Secret prayer qualifies for public, .... 252-274 




Antagonism of pulpit and pastorate Not necessary May help 
each other Pastoral functions in Scripture Beautiful emblems 
Enforced from earliest times Ignatius Archbishop Leighton 
Doddridge Archbishop Whately Advantages Bond of sym 
pathy Eagerness of people to be visited Need of system Snare 
of a small charge System makes irksome work easy 1. Visita 
tion of Families Directions for Whately on the idea of pastoral 
intercourse Need of frankness Difficulty of drawing out reli 
gious conversation Biographical acquaintance Stolidity of some 
families Art of conversation Some ministers visit little Pre 
sident Edwards Mr. Jay of Bath; 2. Visitation of Sick, etc., 
bond of affection Highest object of such visits Death-bed cases 
The bereaved families Distressing events in families Influ 
ence of disappointment, 275-293 


Claims of the young Often the hope of the minister Relation of 
Christian Church to baptized children How they should be re 
cognised Two classes 1. Children Ordinary services sepa 
rate services Need of freshness in preacher and in audience 
Successful preachers to the young" Bairns hymns" and 
bairns sermons American preachers to young Examination 
on sermon Sunday-schools and children s church ; 2. Young 
men and women Catechizing, its antiquity and great benefits 
Old Scottish practice of catechizing all The Bible class Mode 
of conducting it Place of the Bible Topics The Shorter Cate 
chismExplanations of it Other books and topics Written 
exercises Need of preparation Young communicants Mode 
of dealing with them Case of grown-up persons Need of careful 
dealing Grounds of admission The three examiners and their 
several parts, 294-311 


1. Special occasions Marriages As conducted in Scotland The 
tone depends on the minister The service Baptisms Funerals 



Funeral sermons Other special domestic occasions Children 
leaving home 2. Pastoral meetings Prayer-meetings True 
idea of them Cottage lectures Prayer-meetings iu United 
States Week-day lectures Missionary prayer-meeting 3. Reli 
gious revival Languor of ordinary congregation Special times 
needed Communion occasions In the Highlands Weeks of 
prayer, etc. Meaning of "revival "Gradation of subjects For 
awakening the careless For guiding the awakened Dangers 
incident to a revival movement President Edwards " narrative" 
"Natural History of Enthusiasm" Fanaticism A revival 
may benefit or mar a congregation, according as it is guided, . 312-3 



Opposite theories as to functions of clergy and people Combina 
tion of activity in both "Many members in one body" One 
minister to be over the congregation Other gifts Elders and 
deacons to be ordained Others to be recognised Manifold 
labourers in the Church at Rome The line between minister 
and others not easily drawn Active service a great blessing to 
the workers Religious work a spiritual education People 
ought to be indoctrinated in these views Unpopularity of them 
in some quarters Work of organization, how to be gone about 
Consultation Prayer Educating the people for work What 
gives to some great power in getting others to work Develop 
ment of social and spiritual feeling among workers Meetings 
for workers Books Is Christianity a failure ? . . 328-343 



Minister a public man Sometimes too little public spirit, some 
times too much Necessity of attending to his own vineyard 
Various public relations : 1. To ministers of other denomina 
tions Opposite impulses of neighbourliness and faith fiilness 
Barren testimony Sectarian bitterness ; 2. To brother ministers 
Unsocial ministers Gatherings of brethren Interest in dis 
trict generally Church courts Labour and honours Men who 
object ; 3. To public institutions and movements What is 
suitable for ministers Education The poor Public charities 
Calls to take up special matters Social problems Need of 
faithfulness in reproving public evils ; 4. To public controversies 
Perils of controversy The Christian controversialist; 5. 



Science and literature Perils of Christianity The Church 
ought to encourage men to give themselves to this department 
Jealousy of dilettanti contributors and critics Honest work 
needed to give influence First duty of clergy to cultivate litera 
ture of their own profession Influence of a literary position, 344-366 


Character, how acquired Men of moral weight Sketched by 
Chaucer and Bunyan "Davie Deans" Consistency of life 
Extract from Bishop Burnet Elements : 1. Gravity Required 
by nature of office To be relieved by a little playfulness 
Frivolity Genuine and affected seriousness Place of humour 
Extract from George Herbert Questions as to a minister s per 
sonal demeanour Society and amusement The minister s 
household ; 2. Openness Evils of duplicity Straightforward 
ness Need of decision Frankness of utterance Not so easy to 
a Scotchman as to some others Inward sincerity the true foun 
dation ; 3. Temper "Taking offence" unworthy of a Christian 
pastor Peaceableness Anecdote of employer in West of Scot 
land Gossip and scandal ; 4. Punctuality) etc., in statements 
In promises In money matters In business Perfection here 
not iinattainable ; 5. Refinement of manner The product of a 
refined mind George Herbert on the parson s apparel ; 6. The 
inner life Fellowship with God Culture of graces Example 
of Dr. Chalmers Passage from his diary The secret of strength, 361- 


Chrysostom Augustine Cyril Gregory Nazianzen Jerome St. 
Bernard Medieval works Bishop Perkins Baxter s "Re 
formed Pastor" Herbert s "Country Parson" Buruet s "Pas 
toral Care" Fenelon s "Dialogues"- Maury Claude s "Essay 
on Composition of a Sermon "Bishop Wilkins " Ecclesiastes " 
Older works "Cotton Mather "Other works Blackwell 
Campbell Blair Other works Vinet Bungener Simeon- 
Bridges Blunt Whately Moore Angell James Other works 
M. Bautain Potter American books Porter, Kidder, Shedd, 
Alexander, Pond, Broadus, Taylor, Beecher, Fish Articles in 
Reviews, 383-407 



THE great purposes for which the Christian ministry 
has been set up are familiar to us from such passages 
as these : " Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, 
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost ; teaching them to observe 
all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt, 
xxviii. 19, 20). "I send thee to open their eyes, and 
to turn them from darkness to light, and from the 
power of Satan unto God, that they may receive for 
giveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are 
sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts xxvi. 18). 
" He gave some . . . pastors and teachers ; for the per 
fecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for 
the edifying of the body of Christ ; till we all come in 
the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of 
God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the 
stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. iv. 11,12,13. See 
also 2 Cor. v. 18-21 ; 2 Tim. ii. 24-26). It is im 
possible to conceive any change so great or so glorious 
as that which the Christian ministry is thus designed 
to effect. It aims at a radical change in the relation 


of men to God ; an entire change, too, of character and 
life ; it aims at bringing men habitually under the 
influence of the purest motives, and at making their 
life the best and noblest possible, and the fittest pre 
paration for the life to come. The influence of the 
Christian minister must not terminate with his public 
services ; it is designed, under God s blessing, to be a 
silent power with his people during every hour of their 
lives ; in hours of work and in hours of rest, in the 
market-place and the counting-house, in the family 
and in the closet ; prevailing, through the power of the 
Spirit, above all contrary influences, counteracting some 
of the strongest natural inclinations, and bringing every 
thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 

For accomplishing all these changes, the chief instru 
ment furnished to the Christian minister is the Word. 
He is to come into contact with men chiefly by means 
of spoken truth. What his Master has committed to 
him is "the word of reconciliation" (2 Cor. v. 18). As 
a sower, "he soweth the word" (Mark iv. 14). As a 
preacher, he preaches the word (2 Tim. iv. 2). That 
word is "the word of salvation" (Acts xiii. 26). It is 
the forerunner of faith and all other vital graces 
" faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of 
God" (Rom. x. 17). We do not speak at present of 
the unseen power that makes the instrument efficient ; 
we advert to what is outward and apparent the means 
furnished to the minister for effecting the change. So 
far as he is concerned, that change must be effected by 
the delivery of a message from God a message which, 
in the first instance, reveals the way to his favour, but 
which has bearings at the same time on the whole 
sphere of human life and duty. 

The end of the Christian ministry is thus a marvel 


of sublimity ; the instrument for accomplishing it is 
not less a marvel of simplicity. It is often hard to 
believe that so great results can be achieved by the 
simple weapon with which the soldier of the cross is 
sent forth to confront the Goliath that defies the army 
of the living God. As of old, the wisdom of the world 
is ever ready to despise the sling and the stone, and is 
for clothing the shepherd lad in more elaborate and 
imposing armour. Nothing could have been of less 
avail under the old pagan priesthoods than words 
spoken to the worshipper ; the pretended acts of 
magic and divination were needed to give power to 
the priest. In the Church of Eome, and in churches 
of similar spirit at the present day, the " word" sinks 
into insignificance before the other means employed to 
produce and deepen spiritual impression. The minister 
must become more than a servant, a Sid/covos, he must 
be turned into a priest, a member of a sacred caste, 
possessing, among other mysterious faculties, the power 
of forgiving sin and dispensing grace, and a power more 
awful still that of creating the Saviour out of a morsel 
of bread, and offering up his body and his blood as a 
sacrifice for the living and the dead. The services of 
religion must be turned into rites, palpable to the 
senses, and fitted to overawe the soul ; the chief work 
of the minister must be the performing of these rites ; 
and the more complete his ritual the greater is his 
success ; so that a triumphant climax is reached when 
the faithful on their deathbeds receive from him one 
by one the last offices of the Church ; their souls being, 
as it were, serenaded into heaven, while their bodies, 
protected before burial from infernal influences by 
lights and litanies, and carried forth amid songs and 
prayers, are at last committed to that holy bed which 


their ever mindful mother has prepared for them in the 
consecrated earth of the cemetery. 

But the true-hearted minister will reject all such 
substitutes for his simple weapon, as not only needless 
but pernicious. In his work, influences that operate 
externally are to be used only in the most sparing way. 
They are not to be altogether excluded, for baptism 
and the Lord s Supper appeal in the first instance to the 
outward senses, and poetical rhythm and musical sound 
both outward things are employed in the simplest 
service of public worship. But these things are de 
signed for the purpose of elucidating the truth spoken, 
and making it more impressive ; they are not to super 
sede or to overlay it. " The word," says Vinet, " does 
not become a rite ; but the rite becomes a word." The 
sacraments are designed to make the message more 
expressive, and its freight of blessing richer ; but not 
to substitute an impression on the senses or an opus 
operatum for the intelligent and believing reception of 
the truth. The Christian minister is not called a 
minister of rites and ceremonies ; he is emphatically a 
" minister of the word " (Luke i. 2). " Christ sent 
me," said St. Paul, " not to baptize, but to preach the 
Gospel" (1 Cor. i. 17). The baptizing was subordinate 
to the preaching, not the preaching to the baptizing. 

If " the word " the spoken truth of God be thus 
the great instrument of the Christian ministry, it is 
clearly a matter of overwhelming importance that all 
intrusted with this instrument become right skilful 
in its use. If the chosen men of Benjamin have 
no weapon but the sling and stone, they must be 
trained to sling stones at an hairbreadth, and not miss 
(Judges xx. 16). Indeed, the great end of our theo 
logical training in all its branches is to promote a 


thorough acquaintance, intellectual and experimental, 
with the Word of God. Apologetical theology vindi 
cates its claims to a heavenly origin, and invests it 
with those awful sanctions of Divine authority which 
demand that it be listened to as the very voice of God. 
Systematic theology gathers up the great lessons of the 
Word, explains their meaning, shows their bearing on 
each other, and separates from them the elements of 
falsehood with which they are apt to be mixed up. 
Church history throws upon Scripture the light which 
comes from the great controversies of the past, from the 
various developments of truth and error, and from the 
contact of the Church with the several forces, physical 
and spiritual, which it has had to encounter in its 
chequered progress. Exegetical theology, besides fur 
nishing rules of interpretation, examines the Word in 
detail, and brings out, clearly and fully, the precise 
meaning of every portion. Our theological studies 
would utterly fail if they did not bring back the 
student to the Scriptures, illuminated and vivified, filled 
with a clearer and richer meaning to himself, and more 
capable of becoming in his hands, through the power 
of the Holy Spirit, an instrument of spiritual influence 
over others. Such a study of the Bible is a study for 
a lifetime ; and when it opens up in its true propor 
tions, the longest liver has more cause to fear that his 
life will be too short for the study, than that the study 
will be too meagre for his life. 

However little the world may esteem the arrange 
ment which makes the Christian ministry so emphati 
cally a ministry of the Word, those who look deeper 
will readily discover in it elements of the greatest 
value, so that in this, as in other divine arrangements, 
" wisdom is justified of her children." It may be 


enough for our present purpose to point out and illus 
trate four such elements of value, to show how, 
from this arrangement, the instructions of the Christian 
ministry derive 1. Authority and power; 2. Originality; 
3. Variety ; and 4. Durability. 

1. Authority and power. The Christian pulpit has 
never been such a powerful engine as when it has kept 
most closely to the function of expounding and en 
forcing the Word of God. The English pulpit of the 
seventeenth century differed from that of the eighteenth 
in being alike more Scriptural and more powerful. 
Whatever else may be said of the Puritan preaching, 
it was certainly preaching of the Word. It kept in the 
foreground the great central truths, the fall, the doom 
of sin, the redemption of Christ, the work of the Holy 
Spirit, and the solemn consequences of the choice which 
every man is called to make between guilt and pardon, 
between sin and holiness, between hell and heaven. 
Whatever variations there might be in the successive 
bars of the music, the fundamental air was ever the 
same ; the communication came to men as a solemn 
message from heaven with which it was madness to 
trifle. That ministry, whatever its faults and defects 
in other ways, was certainly a ministry of power. But 
when the pulpit ceased to be a place for expounding 
and enforcing the Word ; when passionless essays and 
exhortations to the practice of virtue took the place of 
clear statements of divine truth, and earnest appeals to 
the conscience, the pulpit lost its efficacy. In the 
eighteenth century, earnestness was deemed fanaticism, 
and a mild statement of some branch of the Christian 
evidence, or a mild recommendation of some acknow 
ledged virtue, was regarded as the most proper expres 
sion of Christian zeal. But, as Dr. Samuel Johnson 


remarked, men got tired of hearing the apostles tried 
once a week for the crime of forgery ; their souls longed 
for better food. In the hands of Wesley and White- 
field the pulpit again became an instrument of power, 
just because it returned to its great function of setting 
forth authoritatively the Word of God. 

We are sometimes told, at the present day, that the 
scope of the pulpit is far too narrow. If by this is 
meant that preachers generally confine themselves to 
too narrow a circle of divine truth, we agree with the 
criticism. But if it is meant that preachers ought to 
give up preaching " old Hebrew doctrines," and to turn 
the pulpit into a kind of popular platform, from which 
everything interesting in science, exciting in politics, 
beautiful in art, and even amusing in light literature, 
ought to be freely dispensed, we believe not only that 
such an institution would be a failure, but that the 
pulpit would then become in reality, what a German 
Roman Catholic called it in ridicule, " the chatter 
box." It is well that the pulpit should know wherein 
its great strength lies. There are Delilahs in the tent 
tempting Samson to part with his secret, and persuad 
ing him to allow a razor to come upon his head. And 
truly the Philistines would be upon us if we should 
ever forget our office as ministers of the Word, and be 
tempted to abandon those solemn truths which, uttered 
in God s name, fasten themselves to the conscience, and 
even where they do not lead to conversion, leave an 
awful sense of their importance, and of the madness of 
trampling them under foot. Far better no pulpit at all, 
than a pulpit that did not, as its chief business, solemnly 
address men as lost sinners, summon them to repent 
ance, faith, and humility, and entreat them, in Christ s 
stead, to be reconciled to God. 


There are several incidental sources from which we 
may gather further evidence what it is about the pulpit 
that lays hold on men and stirs their hearts to their 
depths. One of these is Christian art. It is a subject 
that has a painful interest, art having been so often 
abused and perverted to unspiritual ends. Yet it is 
certain that whatever power belongs to the master 
pieces of Christian art is due to the degree in which 
they represent the great supernatural truths of the 
Bible. Art is admitted to be powerful in proportion 
as it is biblical, and when mere tradition becomes its 
basis, it sinks accordingly. The pictures that stir 
men most are those which somehow embody the great 
facts of sin and redemption. " It may at once be laid 
down," says Lady Eastlake, 1 "that the interests of 
Christian art and the integrity of Scripture are indis- 
solubly connected. Where superstition mingles, the 
quality of Christian Art suffers ; where doubt enters, 
Christian Art has nothing to do. It. may even be 
averred that if a person could be imagined deeply im 
bued with aesthetic tastes and sentiments- and utterly 
ignorant of Scripture, he would yet intuitively prefer, 
as Art, all those conceptions of our Lord s history 
which adhere to the simple text." 

It is said that the music of Handel falls comparatively 
dead upon a French audience, where religious scepticism 
prevails, and demands for its appreciation some degree 
at least of sympathy with a scriptural creed. Its power 
lies in the expression it gives to great scriptural truths. 

If from art we pass to literature, we arrive at the 
same conclusion. In Titanic strength and grandeur, 
Dante stands without a rival ; and is not the very soul 

1 Life of our Lord in Christian Art. By Mrs. Jameson and Lady 


of his poetry the Christian doctrine of retribution 
" the soul that sinneth, it shall die ?" It is very plain 
that the mind of Shakespeare was deeply impressed 
with the nature and the doom of sin ; it was as some 
thing much more than a weakness or imperfection that 
sin appeared to him ; and his hell was very different 
from that coarse bugbear of the theologians which it is 
often represented as being. If we think of Milton, we 
think of one in whom the Bible was to such a degree a 
living power, that without his faith in it he would not 
merely have been a different man, but he would have 
been neither a poet nor a power. What a contrast in 
enduring power and interest between Milton and Pope ! 
The one the incarnation of the deep Puritanic faith of the 
seventeenth century (without the Puritanic bareness), the 
other the reflection of the deism of the eighteenth, 
or, as his Essay on Man has been called, " Bolingbroke 
in verse." We do not commit ourselves to the reli 
gious character of all these authors ; but we maintain 
that any elements of moral power in their writings are 
derived from the influence of the great doctrines of 
revelation. Thus we may see that the very truths 
which the culture of the present day would explain 
away as mythical, or repudiate as barbarous, constitute 
in no small measure the enduring strength of the 
Christian pulpit. 

2. Originality is another element of value which the 
Christian ministry derives from having to do so specially 
with the Word of God. 

No doubt, the first impression we should be likely to 
have is the opposite of this. If the problem were stated 
thus a certain book is furnished as the basis of in 
structions to be given age after age and century after 
century to the whole of Christendom, how long will it 


be ere its contents are exhausted, and every new or 
original view which it can supply used up ? The reply 
woulcT probably be, that it was impossible that a single 
book, handled constantly by innumerable expounders, 
could furnish anything new after two or three genera 
tions at most. Every grain of wheat, it would be 
thought, must by that time have been separated from a 
mass subjected to such continual thrashing. But the 
case is quite different. To any thoughtful mind it 
must be a great marvel not that there are many com 
monplace preachers, but that there are still any original 
preachers at all. That out of a book eighteen hundred 
years old, which preachers without number have been 
continually handling, men should still be able to gather 
anything fresh or vivid, should be able to construct 
discourses that command the attention of intelligent 
and well-read audiences, and to do this with apparently 
no more difficulty than their predecessors at the dawn 
of Christianity, is surely an intellectual phenomenon 
demanding some explanation at our hand. 

Is there any other book in the wide world susceptible 
of such treatment ? Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Shakespeare 
is it conceivable that any of them should be drained 
in like manner week after week, in all ages and in all 
countries, and yet should never run dry ? Would the 
expositors never feel it a penance to be confined to a 
path beaten so hard by their predecessors, and the 
hearers to be for ever subjected to hearing the same 
names and being fed with the same food ? The ques 
tion, let it be observed, is not whether Scriptural 
preaching is never a weariness to any. No doubt it is. 
But to these persons all truth of the same kind would 
be a weariness. The phenomenon before us is, that in 
all ages and in all countries there are multitudes who 


listen to the lively exposition and enforcement of Scrip 
ture truth with the keenest interest, and that there are 
preachers who bring it out as freshly as if it had come 
but yesterday from heaven. 1 There must be something 
very special about the Bible to account for this. Our 
explanation is, that the Bible is given by inspiration of 
God, and that it is as full of divine forms and germs 
pertaining to the spiritual world, as the book of nature 
is full of them pertaining to the physical. No age can 
exhaust the fertility of nature. There are combinations 
of her forms and colours to be witnessed ever and anon 
as fresh to man s eye as anything seen by Adam ; and 
neither painter nor poet can ever be constrained to weep 
like Alexander, that he has exhausted the old world, 
and that no new world can be found to conquer. It is 
the same, too, with the Bible. Divine truth lies there 
in forms innumerable, and no single preacher, nor 
school nor age of preachers, can ever bring the whole 
to light. The more we penetrate into this treasury, the 
more shall we be enabled to bring out of it things new 
and old. If we content ourselves with an easy and 
superficial study of it, we shall of course be able to 
produce nothing but what is familiar to all. But if we 
penetrate below the surface, if we dig in the Bible as 
for hidden treasure, we shall never cease to find what 
is fresh and interesting. The most original mind can 
not create truth ; it can only bring to light truth that 
already exists, or find out relations of truth which have 
not been formerly apprehended. God s Book of Eeve- 
lation is no more exhausted in these respects than God s 

1 " Novelty is a great means of interesting, and preaching can 
only maintain its ground in this respect by continually renewing 
itself. Men wish for novelty, and, all things considered, they are 
not wrong. . . . Every prudent preacher will bring forth from his 
treasury things new and old." Vinet. 


Book of Nature. It is to nature that the artist must 
look if he would freshen his mind if he would get into 
some new line of representation that will fascinate and 
move the lovers of art. It is to the Bible, in like man 
ner, brightened perhaps by the light cast on it by pre 
sent modes of thought or action, that the preacher 
must look, if he would give fresh interest and power 
to truths that have begun to pall upon the general ear. 

3. Variety forms a third element of value derived by 
the ministry from its relation to the Scriptures. 

In reference to this, as to the last- named parti 
cular, the first impressions of many are different. The 
notion is apt to prevail that a strictly biblical ministry 
must be a monotonous one. And in many cases, it must 
be owned, preachers getting into a round of leading 
truths, and repeating them again and again with little 
variety, do foster this impression. It is a fault into 
which some of our most spiritual preachers are apt to 
fall. They deem it unworthy of earnest men, yearning 
for souls, to preach on any topics but those which con 
cern, in the most direct way, the relation of the sinner 
to the Saviour. But in leaving out, as they do, a gre,at 
portion of the Word of God, they are apt to cultivate 
in their hearers a narrow type of piety, instead of em 
bracing in their instructions in due proportion the whole 
scope of that Word which is fitted to make the man of 
God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 
It is quite remarkable, indeed, how very small is the 
number of texts usually made use of by the evangelist 
passing from place to place. But the pastor who has to 
feed the flock from week to week and from year to 
year, must study to combine the conditions of unity in 
variety, and variety in unity. 

No better mode of doing this can be found than by 


trying to make the lessons of the pulpit co-extensive 
with the teaching of the Bible, partly in manner and 
wholly in substance. Looked at even superficially, the 
Bible is a book of remarkable variety. Besides theo 
logy, in the stricter sense of the term, it presents 
history and biography, extending often to the minutest 
details ; devotional writing, bringing out all the varied 
experiences of the human heart, especially in its search 
for God ; the proverbial wisdom of men in whom a rare 
worldly shrewdness blended with the profoundest vene 
ration ; typical representations of God s kingdom, of 
great interest and variety, if only we could get the right 
key to their meaning ; songs and poems equally remark 
able for their appreciation of nature and for the depth 
of their spirituality. What shall we say of the Gospels, 
the Acts, and the Epistles ? The person, the life and 
the death of Christ what a study is this, and how 
fitted to stir the heart to its depths ! The kingdom of 
God set up on earth what a wonderful conception ! 
How solemnizing to think of this divine creation 
being in the midst of us, and of our being citizens 
of it, with all its holy rules of living, and of the imme 
diate relation of every member of it to the Divine King ! 
Look across any part of the Bible, and passages of quite 
divine beauty are sure to meet your eye. Take Genesis, 
the oldest book of all, with its first articulate utterance 
of the divine voice, " Let there be light ;" fit word to 
herald all the rest, morning star, as it were, of " the 
true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the 
world." The happy garden, the cursed temptation, the 
fall, the expulsion, the promise ; the contrasted char 
acters and dismal tragedy of Cain and Abel ; the gloom 
of a growing corruption relieved by the bright star of 
Enoch ; the flood, the destruction of all flesh, the salva- 


ti on of the elect family, the bow in the cloud, the fall 
and shame even of the chosen patriarch ; the rebellion 
of Babel and its memorable punishment; the rise of 
the great empires on the banks of the Euphrates and 
the Nile ; the call of Abram, the chequered lives of the 
pilgrim-fathers, the prophetic blessing of the dying 
Jacob, the romantic fulfilment of Joseph s dreams, and 
the curtain falling on the embalmed remains that could 
rest nowhere but in the land of holy promise. 

To master all the treasures of the Bible, to blend all 
its voices into a harmonious whole, is no easy attain 
ment. Though one great line of doctrine runs through 
Scripture, it has its diversities, like the parts of a 
musical harmony. Superficial men are ever finding 
contradictions where the profounder student will find 
a remarkable balance and agreement. To preserve this 
balance, we must follow the manifoldness of Scripture, 
and not confine ourselves to certain favourite lines. We 
must have breadth as well as intensity in our teaching, 
otherwise we may foster a feverish life which will be 
followed by a time of reaction and dreary lifelessness. 
The history of the Christian Church is too full of such 
cases. Eager to uphold some great truth which has 
been the object of assault, the teachers of the Church 
have sometimes suffered other truths, forming its true 
complement and balance, to drop out of view. Mean 
while a craving has arisen in some hearts for the 
nourishment to be derived from these neglected truths ; 
exaggeration in one direction and disparagement in 
another have followed, till some lamentable schism 
and most painful strife have completed the process. 
There is something in the very nature of divine truth, 
and its solemn bearing on eternal life and death, that ren 
ders good men liable to exaggerate, and to show excited 


and feverish energy in defending treasures of such in 
estimable value. The safeguard against such extremes 
would undoubtedly be if our pulpits were exponents of 
the whole counsel of God, and our pastors wise and 
faithful stewards, able to give to all their Master s 
household a portion of meat in due season. If only we 
could grasp the whole of Scripture, and at the same 
time wisely apprehend the whole wants of the Church 
and of the world ; if we could bring the truth to bear 
first of all on the individual soul in its relation to God, 
guiding it to the great salvation, and ministering to it 
through all the changeful experiences of its spiritual 
history ; then on the body of Christians, united in the 
fellowship of the Church; then on the Church in its 
relation to the world, teaching it to love the men who 
are of the world with a divine love, yet on no account 
to be conformed to their spirit ; if we could use for 
these ends all the varied elements of Scripture, we 
should not have to feel, as, alas ! we do now, how far 
off the bright consummation is, how remote the fulfil 
ment of the petition, " Thy kingdom come." 

4. A fourth element of value derived by the Christian 
ministry from its connexion with Holy Scripture is 

We use this word in a double application we mean 
that provision is made both for the endurance of the 
institution itself, and for the permanence of its impres 
sion on men s minds. 

The Christian ministry has a singular vitality. 
Schools of philosophy, once full of life, have died 
away ; bright popular enterprises, like that of chivalry, 
have come and gone ; institutions for the advancement 
of art and science, guilds for the benefit of trade, 
mechanics institutes, people s colleges, and what not, 


have tried to strike their roots into the deep soil of our 
social life without more than partial and transitory 
success. The Christian ministry has fared otherwise. 
We do not refer now to what calls itself the Christian 
priesthood, which depends for its endurance on quite 
another set of conditions. We speak of an institution 
which claims no magical powers, but stands out before 
the world simply as the pillar and ground of the truth. 
What chance of permanence would the Church have, 
if, severing herself from special connexion with the 
revealed message of God, she were to become a mere 
agent of Christian civilisation and improvement ? If 
her churches were to become lecture-rooms and opera 
houses, and instead of showing to men the way of sal 
vation, she were to show them experiments in chemistry, 
and to regale their ears with songs and jokes ? Clever 
men like Professor Huxley may no doubt draw audiences 
for a time on Sunday evenings to hear expositions of 
the physical basis of life, illustrated by means of a 
black-board and a piece of chalk, and interspersed with 
snatches of music ; but what hold can such things take 
of the masses, or what chance of endurance can they 
have ? What insurance company would guarantee 
their survivance beyond a single generation ? Like 
those trees whose roots run along the surface of the 
ground, such institutions can have but a short and fitful 
existence ; and never can you expect to see in con 
nexion with them what you see so often under the 
Christian ministry, the steady crowded congregation 
assembling from age to age, the children taking the 
place of their fathers, their attachments becoming 
stronger, their sympathies deeper with advancing years. 
To give to the Christian ministry its vital attachments, 
it must be plainly in connexion with the saving truth 


of God, affording ground for the conviction expressed 
by the poor maiden of Philippi " These men are the 
servants of the most high God, which show unto us 
the way of salvation" (Acts xvi. 17). 

And as this connexion is necessary for the per 
manence of the institution, so it is also for the endur 
ance of any impressions that may be made by it. If 
the clergy aimed only at setting forth such views of 
truth and duty as have commended themselves to their 
own minds, they no doubt might have a number of 
attached arid admiring hearers, but their words could 
not sink very deep or turn the current of many lives. 
The echoes would not live as do the echoes of many a 
scriptural sermon, slumbering perhaps while life flows 
smoothly, but awaking in the day of trial, and com 
forting the soul in the hour of death. If we would 
preach sermons of such a kind as to arrest the con 
science and turn the will, we must fill them with the 
Word of God. It is the enduring effect of such teaching, 
in contrast with the transitory impression of what is 
merely of human origin that St. Peter thus describes : 
" Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of in 
corruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and 
abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the 
glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, 
and the flower thereof falleth away : but the word of 
the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word 
which by the gospel is preached unto you." 

These views of the sources of pulpit efficacy are the 
more worthy of consideration because of the tendency 
of some preachers at the present day, both in this 
country and America, to appeal for the authority -of 
what they say not to the "Word of God, but to the rea 
son of their hearers their sense of what is right and 


fit, their innate perception of truth and duty. Some of 
these preachers are earnest, serious, and practical, with 
out being very distinctly evangelical. One feature of 
their preaching is most worthy of imitation they 
recognise the actual thoughts and feelings of their 
hearers ; they address them, not as men in the abstract, 
not merely as their fathers and grandfathers may 
have been, but as they have become and are under the 
special influences of the age. At the same time there 
is often a great defect in this preaching. It does not 
come home with the authoritative ring of a "Thus saith 
the Lord." No doubt, it professes to utter truth, and 
all truth is God s truth, and therefore in a sense God s 
message ; but it does not appeal to God s authority as 
given in his Word, nor constrain the submission which 
comes from hearing God s voice. Men are constituted 
in a sense their own guides, their own lawgivers, and 
their own rulers ; and the degree of their deference to 
such authority cannot rise much above the authority 
itself. The desirable thing would be to combine the 
old appeal to the Word of God with that frank recog 
nition of man s actual thoughts and feelings which this 
class of preachers make so copiously. It is a great duty 
to commend ourselves to every man s conscience in the 
sight of God ; but whatever support we seek to derive 
for our lessons from the conscience must be secondary 
to that which we draw from our great standard the 
written Word of the Lord. 

Some will no doubt complain that this is the way to 
produce intolerant preachers, and that no men are so 
offensive in their intolerance as those who claim that all 
their views are identical with the Word of God. But 
where there is real ground for this offensiveness, it 
arises from this claim being made in reference to lesser 


matters on which the Bible gives no direct utterance. 
If the Bible really is a message from God on the great 
matters of sin and salvation, he must be a poor mes 
senger who has no definite conception of the substance 
of the message, and allows men to accept or reject it 
according as they like it or no. 

To preach with power and effect, it is plain that the 
Christian minister must be in deep sympathy with the 
Lord of the Bible, habitually thinking, as it were, his 
very thoughts arid breathing his feelings. Divine truth 
digested into the substance of his spiritual being, and 
reproduced as if it were part of himself goes to the heart 
of his hearers with all the power of a divine message, 
and with all the freshness of a human experience. A 
church replenished with such a race of ministers stands 
in no danger of extinction ; her path will be that of 
the shining light that shineth more and more unto the 
perfect day. 



OF the New Testament ministry it may be said as 
really as of the Old Testament priesthood " No man 
taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called 
of God, as was Aaron" (Heb. v. 4). But the manner of 
the call is widely and obviously different. The call to 
the priesthood came through hereditary descent it ran 
in the blood ; but in the New Testament we find no 
trace of any such arrangement as applicable to the 
Christian Church. The manner in which men are 
called to the New Testament ministry corresponds to 
the nature of the New Testament dispensation. The 
evidences of this call are internal rather than external ; 
they are to be found in inward qualifications, not in 
outward distinctions. Our theory of the ministry is that 
the existence of the qualifications is the foundation of 
the title to the office ; that it lies with the applicant and 
the Church jointly to determine whether he has this 
title ; and that when the Church ordains a man to the 
ministry, she proceeds on the principle that as he 
appears from his qualifications to have been called to 
the office by the Lord, he ought to be solemnly invested 
with it by man. The Church, however, is often not in 
circumstances to come to a very clear judgment on the 


question whether such and such a man has really 
received a call from the Lord to enter into His public 
service; all the more therefore it is incumbent on 
applicants to be very careful in this matter, faithfully 
applying the rule " Let a man examine himself." 

While this lecture shall be occupied chiefly with 
considerations for the settlement of the personal ques 
tion, we desire emphatically to lay down the position, 
that, however clearly it may seem to an individual that 
he has the Master s call, the approval and ordination 
of the Church are ordinarily necessary to constitute 
the ministerial office. Great evil has arisen in the dis 
cussion of this subject from looking only at one side of a 
question which undoubtedly has two sides. Some look 
exclusively at the inward qualifications, and hold that 
if a man has these, the approval and ordination of the 
Church are worthless ; others hold that if a man has 
the approval and ordination of the Church, he is a true 
and authorized minister, let his personal qualifications 
be what they may. The latter is no doubt by far the 
more dangerous error ; but there is danger, too, in the 
other. The latter would invest some men with the 
character of Christ s ambassadors, whom he never sent, 
and never could have sent, because they are evidently 
destitute of his spirit, and " if any man have not the 
spirit of Christ, he is none of his." The other would 
allow men to assume the ministerial office without any 
check on their own judgment of their fitness thus 
encouraging the rough and forward, and discouraging the 
self-distrustful and humble, and doing away with all 
that comely order which the Head of the Church esteems 
so highly. The true view is that which combines both, 
holding that the thing of real value that which con 
stitutes the real foundation of a call to the ministry is 


personal qualification; but that, in ordinary circum 
stances at least, there must be a trying of the spirits 
and a judgment on their qualifications by the Church, 
in order to the constitution of the ministerial office. 
On this footing we proceed to investigate the subject. 

It is of great importance to accustom our minds 
to the idea of a true personal relation between the 
Christian minister and the Lord Jesus Christ. This, in 
fact, is implied (1.) in the very name ; a minister, ser 
vant, Sidfcovos, must hold a personal relation to a master ; 
an ambassador must be appointed to his office by the 
person whom he represents ; an under- shepherd must 
receive the portion of the flock for which he is to care 
from the hands of the Chief Shepherd. (2.) It is 
implied, further, in the nature of the work to be done ; 
the establishment of Christ s kingdom is a great, con 
nected scheme, in which each part of the work bears 
on the rest ; the building of the spiritual temple is 
carried on in conformity to a comprehensive plan ; and 
though men may work who are not called, and their 
work may be overruled for good, yet the true and 
authorized workmen will evidently be subject to the 
call and instructions of the Master Builder. (3.) It is 
implied in the fact that efficient ministers are repre 
sented as the gifts, of the Lord to those portions of the 
vineyard that enjoy their services. " I will give them 
pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed 
them with knowledge and understanding" (Jer. iii. 15). 
" When he ascended up on high he led captivity cap 
tive, and gave gifts to men, . . . and he gave some 
apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and 
some pastors and teachers ; for the perfecting of the 
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of 
the body of Christ" (Eph. iv. 8, 11, 12). (4.) It .is 


implied in the analogical case of the Old Testament 
prophets, who were called by God to their mission 
" Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee ; and 
before thou earnest forth out of the womb I sanctified 
thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations " 
(Jer. i. 5) ; while of unauthorized prophets it is said, 
" I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran ; I have 
not spoken unto them, yet they prophesied " (Jer. xxiii. 
21). (5.) It is implied further in the analogy of the 
apostles, all of whom were called by Christ and sent by 
Christ "As thou hast sent me into the world, even 
so have I also sent them into the world " (John xvii. 
18). (6.) And finally, it is implied in the promises 
made to Christ s ministers. " The Comforter, which is 
the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my 
name, he shall teach you all things" (John xiv. 26). 
" When the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive 
a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Pet. v. 4). 

It is important that such views as these of the rela 
tion between Christ and his ministers, and the appoint 
ment they hold from him be attentively considered, as 
some are disposed to regard the idea of a divine call to 
the ministry as a fanatical one, unworthy of the con 
sideration of sober minds. But if the Head of the 
Church knows his sheep and calls them by name, it is 
obvious he must know his shepherds ; and if even the 
foremost of the apostles could not be intrusted with 
feeding the sheep and tending the lambs till he had 
three times answered a question relating to his personal 
state, it is not only not unworthy of the attention of 
candidates for the ministry, but eminently the reverse, 
to inquire whether this office of shepherd is designed 
by their Lord for them. It is an inquiry relating to a 
matter of fact, and on the answer to it must depend a 


great question of right or wrong. If a man who con 
sciously is not called assume the office, no sanction 
that may be given to him by a fallible church can 
reverse the fact, and make him a true shepherd of 
Christ s sheep. His career must be unblessed, un 
hallowed, a profane handling of sacred things, the 
intrusion of a thief and a robber into the sheepfold, to 
whose voice the sheep will not listen. How soon to 
such a man, when the first feeling of novelty is past, 
will the ministry in its true functions be a burden and 
a weariness ! How sorely will he be tempted to make 
it a mere platform for benevolence, or a theatre for self- 
display, or to add to it some more sprightly occupation, 
instead of keeping to Christ s grand object, building 
up the kingdom which is not meat and drink, but 
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. 
And how distressing his influence on the flock, guiding 
them not to the green pastures and still waters, but to 
the dry places of the wilderness mountains where- 
there is no dew, neither the rain falleth upon them. 

The common application of the words " calling" and 
"vocation" to men s ordinary occupations shows that 
even there, in virtue of certain considerations, some 
men are providentially designed for particular modes of 
life. These considerations have a certain typical resem 
blance to those which determine a call to the Christian 
ministry. ^A person is understood to have a vocation to 
a profession or pursuit when three elements are com 
bined inclination, ability, and opportunity, and the 
more decidedly that these all point to that particular pur 
suit, the more clear is his vocation. A man with ability 
to be an artist, with a passion for art, with the oppor 
tunity of learning and prosecuting the profession, may 
be held to have a calling to it, subject, of course, to the 


risk of error under the head of ability, which must at 
first be problematical, and to difficulties under the head 
of opportunity, which, however, may be designed only 
to call forth the energy and resoluteness of his character. 
If we give a full scriptural interpretation to the terms, 
it may be sufficient to say that these three elements, 
inclination, ability, and opportunity constitute a call to 
the Christian ministry. 

But we must not leave the matter in this vague form, 
since these terms may be understood in a variety of 
ways. For example, inclination. Ministerial life may 
be attractive to young persons of particular tempera 
ment in some of its secondary aspects ; they may have a 
liking for a life of quiet usefulness ; their literary tastes 
may be attracted by the clergyman s little study and 
theological library ; they may have a personal liking for 
some who are engaged in the pursuit ; or they may 
feel that, more than any other, it fulfils their ideal of a 
desirable life. Their ability may have been tested by 
the usual methods in their preparatory classes, and by 
the crowning evidence of their having passed the final 
examinations with eclat. Their opportunity may have 
been determined so far by the absence of any other 
pursuit which it would have been natural for them to 
follow, by the encouragement and approval of their 
friends, and by that spirit which t in manly bosoms dis 
dains to bargain for place or patronage, but trusts to 
realize its fitting position in a fair competition with 
the racers at large. Now there are no doubt instances, 
not a few, of young men entering on preparation for 
the ministry with views as indefinite as these, who, 
either in the course of their studies, or in their first 
grappling with the difficulties of the ministry, have 
been led to a far more profound sense of its responsi- 


bilities, and have proved themselves to be able and 
successful ministers of Jesus Christ. Not seldom a 
man, while sitting in his place in divinity class-rooms, 
has for the first time heard the voice of the Master 
asking "Whom shall I send?" and for the first time 
been moved in spirit to reply, " Here am I, send me/ 
A man may receive his real call to the ministry after 
lie has been formally in the office. But let it be 
understood, that whatever the grace of God may after 
wards effect, a mere leaning towards the ministry, based 
on such secondary grounds as we have now adverted 
to, cannot be regarded as a call to it. It may be that 
Christ destines some such ultimately for high useful 
ness in that office, but with their present views and 
feelings they are not entitled to regard him as calling 
them to feed his sheep and his lambs. The reason is 
plain. In the ministry of the Gospel there is need for 
a man s soul to help the work, while in the cases that 
have been supposed, the soul has undergone no adapta 
tion of the kind. The work of Christ demands a glow 
upon the spirit, a devotion, a fervour, arising from a 
deep experience of sin and grace, and the power of the 
world to come, demands an active desire for the salva 
tion of souls, not always to be found in those who 
favour the ministry as a quiet useful life. There are 
various forms of Christian philanthropy or benevolence, 
to which, according to their opportunity, all Christian 
men are called ; but the philanthropy which is pecu 
liar to the Christian ministry is the love of souls. It 
is in many ways important and desirable that the mini 
sters of the Gospel should encourage, and so far as other 
duties permit, personally promote these various forms 
of philanthropy ; but it must be clearly understood 
that these do not constitute their primary work, and 


that an interest in them is not the specific qualification 
which indicates, on the part of Christ, a call to his 
ministry. The minister is the servant to whom Christ 
intrusts the carrying out of the grand purpose for 
which he came into the world. " This is a faithful 
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus 
came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am 
chief" (1 Tim. i. 15). In all whom Christ calls to be 
his servants in this work, there must be found some 
fitness for it in this its highest aspect a special interest 
in the salvation of souls, and a deliberate purpose to 
make this the great business of their lives. 

1. Plainly, then, in the first place, a call to the minis 
try presupposes the existence of the great mark of a 
servant of Christ conversion of heart and life. 

It is not to be supposed that Christ would call men 
to His ministry, or the work of saving souls, whose own 
souls are not saved, and who are not partakers of that 
life which comes from the indwelling of the Holy 
Ghost. The order of his kingdom is, " Let the dead 
bury their dead." It is true at the same time, that 
unconverted men have sometimes been the instru 
ments of saving good to others, and instances could be 
given of persons who have been led to the Saviour, and 
have continued to adorn his doctrine, while he who 
first led them had come to wallow in the lowest depths 
of sensuality. This fact may well make students of 
divinity careful in examining the foundations of their 
Christian profession. No one is entitled to assume 
that all must be right with him in this respect, since 
otherwise he would not be a student of divinity. There 
is no such thing as an official door to heaven. What 
ever may be the way in which he was led, he must 
have given himself to Christ before he can be His 


minister. There must be found in him that sense of 
unworthiness and emptiness which leads him day by 
day to the blood that cleanseth from all sin, which 
draws him to God, makes him hang upon the promise 
of the Spirit, encourages him to read and pray, and 
makes him earnest and unceasing in the conflict with 
sin and temptation. Carelessness in the keeping of 
his own vineyard can be no recommendation in the 
keeper of other vineyards ; and of all men the servant 
of the Lord should be the last to lie open to the 
reproach " What meanest thou, sleeper ? arise, call 
upon thy God" (Jonah i. 6). 

2. More than this, a call to the ministry supposes a 
peculiar sympathy with Christ in his great enterprise 
as Saviour, and a strong desire to be of service to him 
in that enterprise. 

A deep sense of the guilt and misery of sinners, far 
from their father s house, and often fain to fill their 
belly with the husks ; much distress of soul at the 
thought of lives perverted by sin from their great end, 
and prostituted to objects shallow and unsatisfying at 
the best ; a yearning desire to gather the wanderers to 
the Saviour ; a sense of mental refreshment, a seeing of 
the travail of one s soul and being satisfied in the 
accomplishment of this desire ; a feeling that to help 
thus would be to apply one s life to the noblest pur 
poses, and to reap a reward that leaves nothing to be 
desired ; a fervent wish to be sent out by the Master 
on such errands, an eagerness to hear from his lips the 
command, "Go, work to-day in my vineyard;" some 
such experience as this is one of the spiritual condi 
tions that mark off some, out of the mass of young 
Christians, as specially qualified to take part in Christ s 
ministry. We would not exclude those who, feeling 


deeply that this is the true spirit of his service, but 
lamenting their own poverty and emptiness in regard 
to it, are lifting up their souls to God, beseeching Him 
to pour it out upon them. We should indeed be most 
hopeful of such, knowing that as the air rushes most 
rapidly into an exhausted receiver, so the grace of God 
fills most readily the soul that is consciously empty. 
The Church has no such ministers as those in whose 
breasts the word of the Lord so presses for utterance, 
that even if like Jeremiah they should say, " I will not 
make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name " 
(Jer. xx. 9), his word would be in their heart as a 
burning fire shut up in their bones, so that they could 
not keep it from bursting forth. Natural temperament 
that part of a man which it is least easy to alter may 
have something to do with this ; but be our tempera 
ment what it may, we have little cause to believe that 
we are called to Christ s public service unless it be at 
least our aim and prayer to have his word so dwelling 
in us that " we cannot but speak the things which we 
have seen and heard " (Acts iv. 20). 

3. It follows that where there is a real call to the 
ministry, along with this sympathy with Christ in his 
great enterprise of salvation, there will be a readiness 
for those habits of life and modes of service that tend 
to its accomplishment. 

A genuine aspirant to the ministry must have the 
power of contemplating what has now been described as 
the main part of his life-work, and of setting himself to 
accomplish it accordingly. Of course, young men at the 
beginning of a race cannot know experimentally all its 
difficulties and temptations, and cannot therefore have 
before them all the circumstances that would enable them 
to say intelligently that they never would tire of it. But 


this is not necessary. It is enough that, so far as they 
know themselves, and know the work, and know the 
promises and helps that are available for it, their hearts 
go with it, and that, recognising this state of mind as 
the gift of God, they feel the necessity of continually 
asking Him to renew and deepen it, so that as time 
rolls on they may like the work better, and live for it 
more. It ought not to be concealed that the experience 
of life that will come to you by and by will bring with 
it temptations which you may feel but feebly now. To 
renounce the world and its aims and prizes, is often an 
easier thing for a young man in the free independence 
of youth, than for one whose position is complicated by 
domestic relations, and who is sometimes tempted to 
desire for the sake of others what he could quite freely 
renounce for himself. But, under any circumstances, an 
aspirant to the ministry must see to it that he is content, 
with God s help, to lead a life which cannot well fail to 
be one of much labour and self-denial ; that he possesses 
those habits of self-command which shall preserve him 
from the snares of indolence and fitfulness ; that, like 
Moses, he can turn aside from the allurements of wealth 
and pleasure, feeling that the humble path he has 
chosen has rewards of its own far higher than those 
of Egypt; that he has faith enough in his Master 
to keep his mind at ease, in the belief that God will 
supply all his need, according to His riches in glory, 
by Christ Jesus ; that he has a special abhorrence of 
all those vices, such as sensuality, deceit, or disho 
nesty, a single act of which, openly committed, or 
disclosed, might be enough to discredit if not ruin his 
character and usefulness for ever ; and, above all. that 
he is so alive to the necessity of maintaining this 
spirit and these habits of life, by daily fellowship 


with the Fountain of Life, that they form the subject 
of his most earnest supplications at the throne of 

The maintenance and culture of this spirit is indeed 
one of the most important elements, if it be not the 
most important element, of preparation for the work of 
the ministry. Unfortunately, it cannot be said that 
literary and philosophical studies have a direct tendency 
to foster it. Eather, perhaps, the other way. Breadth 
and expansion of intellect they do give, and what is 
extremely valuable in education (for it is education 
itself), they enable you to use your mental powers, to 
work and control that wondrous machinery of the brain 
which would otherwise lie idle like an unmanageable 
ship, or rush about wildly like a flooded stream. But 
the spirit of consecration cannot be said to arise from 
either classics, or physics, or philosophy. Sometimes, 
indeed, we see students entering on their literary studies 
with more of Christian fervour and devotedness than 
they show at the close. It is of vast importance, there 
fore, that pains be taken, not only to ascertain the 
existence of a spirit of consecration, but to foster and 
deepen it. Your own private exercises of devotion, in 
which you must never allow the pressure of other work 
to lead you to become slack ; your Sabbath-day com 
munion with the upper world ; your home-missionary 
work, so useful at this period of your career; your 
private reading, embracing, as you will strive to make 
it embrace, the memoirs of earnest ministers, and all 
else that stimulates the spirit of consecration, will serve, 
by God s blessing, to nourish this habit, and thereby 
make it the more apparent that it is in obedience to 
Christ s own summons that you are entering on the 
work of the ministry. 


It must not, however, be supposed that an intense 
sympathy with Christ in the great enterprise of salva 
tion, and the presence of all those feelings and habits 
of life which we have noticed in connexion with 
it, constitute in all cases, a call to the ministry. 
That they constitute a call to some form of service is 
undoubted ; in the case of women, for example, where 
such feelings are often peculiarly strong, the call to 
serve Christ in some shape is unquestionable; but 
few females, however enthusiastic, fancy that their voca 
tion is to preach the Gospel. To complete the elements 
that go to constitute a call to the ministry, we must 
consider what is peculiar to that mode of service, and 
therefore indispensable to the successful performance 
of its duties. 

4. We remark then further, that a certain amount 
and form of intellectual ability must be regarded as a 
requisite for the ministry of the Word. There must 
evidently be a certain capacity of intellectual ac 
quirement. No man is qualified for the office of 
the ministry (except in cases of great rarity, where 
other qualifications are extraordinary) who is incapable 
of furnishing himself with the ordinary branches of 
theological knowledge, to whom Greek and Latin are 
nothing but unknown tongues, philosophy a region of 
mist and cloud, theological discussion a battle-field of 
hard words, and the history of the Church a mere 
labyrinth of facts and conflicts, schisms and heresies, 
that no memory can carry and no brain digest. There 
must be some capacity to feel at home in such walks, 
because in these times especially, when speculation is 
so much in vogue, when educated laymen are often so 
much in need of guidance, when the library of every 
Mechanics Institute has its complement of sceptical 


works, when young tradesmen and ploughmen are be 
coming familiar with the infidel arguments of the day, 
it were presumption in any one to aspire to the office 
of a spiritual guide who did not know more about these 
subjects than his people, and who was not better quali 
fied to discuss them. We say that it is only in cases 
of great rarity, where other qualifications are extraordi 
nary, that the want of such a capacity can be excused. 
We can conceive men of such spiritual force, such 
power of making the truth appear as its own witness, 
such skill in attacking the conscience, moving the will 
and touching the feelings, and in such obvious alliance 
with the Spirit of God, that the absence of human 
learning would hardly be felt to be a defect, and at the 
feet of such teachers the greatest scholars might be 
content to sit. But men of this calibre are rarely to 
be met with, and when they do occur, they will either, 
by their extraordinary spiritual momentum, assert their 
right to be regarded as exceptions, or they will find a 
special sphere of usefulness of another kind. Let it 
be observed, however, in regard to such men, that it 
would be a great mistake to regard them as uneducated, 
even if they have but little of human acquirement. 
They possess one thing which it is the great aim of 
education to impart the power of using their powers 
a command over their own faculties a capacity of 
launching their weapons with an instinctive certainty 
of aim, and with a force which is all the greater that the 
operation is so natural and so sure. Where a natural 
gift of this kind is consecrated by the Holy Ghost the 
impression is marvellous ; but so far from proving that 
human culture is of little consequence in ordinary 
cases, it proves just the reverse. For that marvellous 
development and command of one s mental faculties 


which such men seem to have as a natural gift, the 
great mass of men have to acquire by education and 
by practice. The enlargement of our mental powers, 
the capacity of using them at will, the ability to have 
them in orderly array, so that they shall not jostle nor 
impede one another, but shall multiply the force which 
is exerted by each, is a more important and valuable 
result of education than any amount of undigested 

Some measure of this intellectual ability is doubt 
less to be regarded as a qualification for the ministerial 
office. Some measure of intellectual grasp, some readi 
ness of intellectual movement, some skill in intellectual 
concentration. And let it not be said that in thus 
dwelling on the importance of intellect in the ministry 
we dishonour the Spirit of God. The fact is, that 
from the Apostle Paul downwards it is men of great 
learning and high intellectual culture who have been 
the mightiest instruments of spiritual results. Augus 
tine, Calvin, Owen, Baxter, Jonathan Edwards were 
all men of full acquirement and well-developed intel 
lectual power. But their reliance on the great source 
of spiritual strength was not impaired either by the 
fulness of their learning, or the force of their intellect. 
They laid all their attainments at the foot of the Cross, 
and would have entered very cordially into the remark 
of Archbishop Leighton to a friend who admired his 
books, and congratulated him on having produced them, 
" Ah," said Leighton, " one devout thought outweighs 
them all." 

5. There are also certain physical qualifications 
which are not to be overlooked in judging of a call to 
the ministry. 

Extreme bodily feebleness, especially feebleness of 


the throat or the chest, on which the faculty of utter 
ance is so dependent, is certainly a disqualification, 
only to be disregarded on the strength of an unusual 
measure of other qualifications. So also is a nervous 
ness so extreme that it will never allow one to forget 
one s- self, while it produces a kind of mental paralysis 
in presence of an audience that makes a public appear 
ance a kind of martyrdom, and renders one most help 
less when one ought to be strongest. It is scarcely 
possible to draw a hard and fast line between that 
measure of natural shyness which may be overcome by 
practice, by courageous efforts to do one s duty, and by 
earnest prayer for the help of God ; and that extreme 
nervous feebleness which unfits one for ever being a 
good public speaker. But it is certain that nothing 
appears to the lay mind more out of place than the 
appearance in the pulpit of one whose feeble accents 
and general helplessness make him more an object of 
compassion than of respect. And on no occasions are 
people more disposed to pass hard judgments on theo 
logical institutions and those who conduct them than 
when such men appear as their instructors. The 
public are but little in the way of accepting the lesson 
which an eminent man used to say that he could 
always draw even from the poorest sermon he ever 
heard a lesson of patience. 

6. And perhaps we ought to advert to certain social 
elements not to be overlooked. The ministry is a 
social office, and men of unsocial temper, who shrink 
from the company of their fellows, and instead of being 
disposed to let out their souls, ever keep them defended 
as by a coat of mail, are pro tanto disqualified. This 
tendency, too, is one which, unless overcome in youth, 
will grow with years, creating at last a positive repul- 


sion between the minister and at least the younger 
members of his flock. To encourage his people to 
speak on religious topics, and to enter freely into his 
plans of work, a measure of frankness is indispensable ; 
for it is frankness that draws frankness, it is cordiality 
that begets cordiality, that breaks down the barriers of 
reserve, and knits the bonds of brotherhood. Consider 
ing, too, how much it is his duty to "beseech" and 
" persuade" men, it is evident that a genial, kindly, 
persuasive spirit must be of eminent service what on 
this side of the Border we call winsomeness. 

Yet, on the other hand, seeing that the minister of 
Christ is called to deal in the pulpit and elsewhere 
with very awful realities, it is essential that he be free 
from all levity of character, from everything that would 
lower in men s eyes the dignity of his office, or connect 
paltry or ludicrous associations witli the grand truths 
he is called to proclaim. By profession a peacemaker, 
called to aid in the work of the great Peacemaker, and 
often finding it his duty to endeavour to adjust the 
differences that arise in families and in communities, 
he has need of a calm and peaceable temper, and of 
that prudence which enables one to steer one s course 
calmly, without stirring elements of strife which lie 
around one on this side and on that. A morose, re 
served, and surly temper, or an irascible and violent 
one, are therefore serious disqualifications for the 
ministry. For "the servant of the Lord must not 
strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; 
in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves ; 
if God peradventure will give them repentance to the 
acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover 
themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken 
captive by him at his will" (2 Tim. ii. 24-26). 


It is quite true that some of the qualifications for 
the ministry that have now been adverted to are of 
secondary importance, and that the partial absence of 
them does not conclusively show that the person has 
no call from Christ to this office. On the other hand it 
is also certain that several men of true excellence have 
not only done no good service, but much mischief in 
the ministry, by the want of talent for public speaking 
and public instruction, by a feeble, nervous, awkward 
manner, by an ungenial, mule-like temper, or by a 
pugnacious, exasperating spirit. We are constantly 
hearing expostulations from persons outside against 
some of those whom we send forth to preach, but who 
are utterly unfit for the charge of a congregation. If 
young men only knew themselves, and knew their 
natural infirmities, they might do a great deal at the 
present stage in checking and overcoming them ; they 
might learn a lesson of humility and watchfulness from 
the very knowledge of them ; they might be thrown 
into that relation of conscious dependence on God into 
which Paul was thrown by his thorn in the flesh, and 
taught to prize, as he was, the ever glorious promise 
" My grace is sufficient for thee : for my strength is 
made perfect in weakness " (2 Cor. xii. 9). 

It would be matter of deep regret if these observa 
tions had only the effect of making any conscientious 
young man uncomfortable, of stirring doubts in his 
mind as to his divine vocation to an office which 
hitherto he may have been contemplating with un 
clouded satisfaction. If, however, any doubts have 
been raised, let them not be suffered to remain. In 
the first place, bear in mind that though you are 
responsible for presenting yourselves as candidates, and 
though that does imply that you think this is according 


to the mind of Christ, it is the Church that is respon 
sible for ordaining you. The ministerial office will not 
be formed till a congregation calls and the Church 
ordains you. But if doubts have arisen as to whether 
you should even offer yourselves as candidates for the 
ministry, then frankly and honestly lay your case 
before the Master whom you desire to serve, and pray 
that in his light you may see light on the question, 
whether or not He calls you to His ministry. Let it 
be frankly owned that on such a subject as this, we 
who teach teach through our own errors, and become 
experienced through our infirmities. We serve a 
kind and most considerate Master, who, if we but have 
humility and docility, will bear with innumerable 
defects, will bless our poor endeavours, and kindly lead 
us on, through failures and blunders innumerable, to a 
respectable measure of success. The years glide on 
with pleasure when we are doing his work, and con 
tributing our mite to the grand result the establish 
ment of the kingdom of God in the world. Our dis 
appointments and sorrows are comparatively bearable 
when we remember that they are shared by him who 
has power to place them among the all things that 
work together for good. And when the joys of harvest 
are accorded to us when souls are blessed through 
our word, and living stones are added to the spiritual 
temple, the satisfaction is increased by the thought 
that he too rejoices, and looks down on this product of 
the new creation with even livelier satisfaction than he 
felt at the close of his creative week, when he saw all 
that he had made, and behold, it was very good. 



PREACHING, or the public proclamation of the truth 
by the living voice of preachers or heralds, is pre 
eminently an ordinance of the New Testament. Occa 
sionally it was practised in Old Testament times ; but 
as a permanent and universal ordinance it was the 
institution of our Lord. Enoch and Noah were in 
some sense preachers. The author of Ecclesiastes is 
called expressly " the Preacher," but it is a question 
whether the original term (^JJP) would not be rendered 
more fitly " the Compiler." Jonah, when sent against 
Nineveh, was instructed to preach the preaching that 
God gave him that is, to utter the proclamation, " Yet 
forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." On 
the return from the captivity, Ezra, from his wooden 
pulpit, reading the book of the law to the assembled 
people, giving the sense and causing them to under 
stand the reading (Neh. viii. 4), presented probably the 
nearest approach to modern preaching in Old Tes 
tament times. In the synagogues the practice seems 
to have been common ; and our Lord at Nazareth, first 
reading a portion of Scripture, and then giving an 
address on it, seems to have followed the usual practice. 
John the Baptist was expressly and conspicuously a 
preacher ; but perhaps it was as the forerunner of 
Christ that he brought forward so prominently the 


mode of influence which Christ himself was to esta 
blish and perpetuate. 

Preaching was not resorted to by the philosophers or 
founders of ancient schools. Even after they had in 
structed their disciples, they did not send them out to 
public and populous places to speak in light what they 
had been told in darkness, or preach upon the house 
tops what they had heard in the ear. Methods more 
select, and apparently careful, were taken to preserve 
and perpetuate opinions which it would have been 
counted sacrilege to fling abroad on the rude ears of the 
profanum vulgus. Nevertheless, the method instituted 
by Christ has proved itself far more effectual than any. 
" The systems of the wisest philosophers have passed 
away, but the preaching of the Gospel has continued, 
and so multiplied itself, that it more nearly fills the 
world than any system of teaching or influencing man 
kind has ever done." (Kidder.) There is probably no 
order of educated men in the world more numerous 
than that of Christian preachers. In spite of the rivalry 
of the printing-press, the superior attractions of other 
professions, and the fears that sometimes arise lest the 
supply should fail, it is renewed from age to age ; and 
the prophetic announcement of the Psalmist still finds 
its fulfilment in every Protestant country, " The Lord 
gave the word ; great was the company of them that 
published it." 

In the New Testament no fewer than five expres 
sions are employed to denote the employment of the 

1. Evayye\%a), in the middle voice evayy\iopai, to 
bring glad tidings, to declare the good news with special 
reference to the salvation of Christ ; as the angel said 
to the shepherds, evayjeXt^o/jbai, V/MV 


(Luke ii. 10). It is well to mark the prominence of the 
element of good news in this leading word correspond 
ing to which, a tone of gladness ought habitually to 
mark the delivery of the preacher, as if he were bring 
ing a piece of good news to persons in trouble. In very 
many cases the word is used simply for proclaiming, 
but without excluding the notion of good tidings. The 
corresponding noun, euayyeKiov, is the Gospel, the good 
news what old writers used to call the Evangel. 

2. Karayye\\(o, usually translated to preach, but 
sometimes to show, to teach, to declare. The use of 
the intensive Kara denotes emphasis and urgency, 
" Whom ye ignorantly worship, him I KarayyeXka) VJMV 
emphatically make known to you" (Acts xvii. 23). 
" Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, 
through this man is preached (/carayyeXXeTai) unto you 
the forgiveness of sins" (Acts xiii. 38). 

3. Krjpva-oro), to make proclamation like a herald 
spoken, for example, of John the Baptist, " He came 
into all the country round about Jordan, /crjpvo-crtov 
fiaTTTia-fjLa fjueravoias et? afacriv d^apnwv " (Luke iii. 3) ; 
K7]pvcrcrei,v XpiaTov, to preach Christ, " Philip went down 
to a city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them " 
(Acts viii. 5). 

4. diaXeyofjiai,, to speak to and fro, to discuss, to 
reason " He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, 
and persuaded Jews and Greeks " (Acts xviii. 4 ; xix. 
8, 9 ; xxiv. 25), etc. It is emphatically used of the 
preaching of St. Paul, as when at Troas he preached 

to the disciples, and Eutychus fell down, 
rov Haiikov ejrl irXelov (Acts xx. 9). 

5. The word \a\eco is also rendered to preach, as in 
Mark ii. 2 " He preached (eXaXet) the word unto them ;" 
but also sometimes simply to speak " they so spake 


that a great multitude both of Jews, and also of Greeks, 
believed." It is instructive to find the plain word 
for speaking interchanged with the other terms, because 
this shows that preaching is in fact just speaking ; it is 
not essentially different from our ordinary way of com 
municating our thoughts to one another by the faculty 
of speech, the chief difference being only that which is 
demanded by the nature of the truths uttered, and the 
size of the audience addressed. Our Lord s own preach 
ing was emphatically speaking (Star/ ez> TrapafSokals 
XaXet? aurot? ; ) it derived much of its force from its 
being so, from its being the natural expression of his 
thoughts ; nor, because he spoke naturally, did he 
seem to find difficulty in giving to his voice a tone 
suitable to the subject, or in moving all up and clown 
the scale of emotion, from the gentlest expression of 
sympathy to the most impassioned utterances of in 
dignation, or the most solemn denunciations of doom. 

The ordinance of Christian preaching, to which all 
these expressions point, is nowhere very formally de 
fined ; nor are the functions of New Testament preach 
ers anywhere set forth with the exactness which marks 
the regulations prescribed for the priesthood. The truth 
is, as Vinet has well remarked, that " Jesus Christ in 
stituted little, but inspired much." Instead of forming 
exact patterns, like the moulds in an iron-foundry which 
the melted metal is to fill precisely, he gave a forma 
tive quality to the views with which he inspired his 
followers, by which, rather than by express instruc 
tions, the shape of his institutions was to be deter 
mined. In regard to preaching, it was left to assume 
whatever form should be found to be most in accordance 
with its two great purposes, CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION 


Instruction, the announcement of the message, the 
communication to men of the truths with which the 
ambassador has been intrusted, must obviously be the first 
object of the preacher. In the earliest times, the wonder 
ful facts of Christ s history formed the chief topics of 
instruction, and the Gospel preached was little more 
than a transcript of the Gospel afterwards written an 
account of the marvellous life and death of the Son of 
God. With the progress of the Church and of Christian 
knowledge, it was less necessary to be constantly 
preaching these elementary facts ; indeed they came to 
be assumed as known, and the element of instruction in 
preaching then consisted in the relations and bearings 
of the great fundamental truths, both as to what man 
ought to believe concerning God, and the duty which 
God requires of man. Some are inclined to say that 
there is now no longer occasion for the element of in 
struction in preaching ; sufficient provision for that 
being made previously in the school-room and the 
Bible-class. But even if it were certain that the funda 
mental facts of the Christian faith had been taught 
there with sufficient clearness and fulness, a vast field 
for instruction would remain in the elucidation and 
application of these facts. The truths of Eevelation 
are so vast and manifold in their reach and bearing, 
that as no teacher can ever grasp the whole, so no con T 
gregation can be beyond the reach, and therefore beyond 
the need, of further instruction in regard to them. 

But while instruction is certainly to be regarded as 
one of the great purposes of the pulpit, it is certainly 
not the terminus ad quern, it must be subordinate to its 
other great purpose that of persuasion. Under this 
term we include the moving of the soul, by means of 
the truths which are handled by the preacher. His 


duty is not exhausted when he has laid down his mes 
sage, like a cargo of coal, at his hearer s door, leaving 
him to accept or reject it as he may please ; he must pre 
vail on him if possible to open his door, admit his goods, 
and place them in safe custody under lock and key. 
Knowing the terror of the Lord, he is to persuade men 
(2 Cor. v. 11); to beseech men in Christ s stead to 
be reconciled to God (2 Cor. v. 20); to warn every 
man, and teach every man in all wisdom, that he may 
present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Col. i. 28). 
It is this business of persuasion this moving of the 
springs of human hearts, and bending them Godwards, 
that constitutes the great difficulty of the preacher s 
office, and leads him most to feel the insufficiency of 
human strength, and the need of the special grace of the 
Holy Ghost. But the more a preacher recognises this 
as the great end of his labour, the more successful, with 
God s help, will his preaching be. And the greater the 
number of such preachers in a church, the more re 
markable and the more pervading will be the influence 
of its pulpit. 

It is chiefly in the fact of its being designed for 
persuasion, that the vindication of the pulpit as a per 
manent institution of the Christian Church is to be 
found. If instruction were the only, or even the chief 
purpose of sermons, that end could be secured better 
through books, or through the recorded discourses of 
the best preachers, presenting the truth with a fulness, 
a clearness, and an exactness to which the greater part 
of preachers can make no claim. It is of the utmost 
possible importance to keep prominently in view that it 
is the living element in the pulpit that not only gives 
it its chief value but even justifies its existence. It is 
the presence in it of a man of God who has not only 


received divine truth into his own soul, but who regards 
it as his great business to get it into the souls of his 
hearers. It is not the wires and posts that constitute 
the value of our telegraph system ; without the living 
fluid that runs along the wires, all that is seen by our 
eyes would be worthless. It is not to present men 
with any mere body of divinity, however clearly stated 
and skilfully articulated, that the Christian pulpit has 
its being ; but that the truth may be mingled with the 
warmest feelings of the preacher s soul ; that he may 
use all his tact to recommend it to his actual congre 
gation ; that prejudices may be removed, existing mo 
tives stimulated, objections answered, and indecision 
rebuked; and that this living element in the preacher 
may be blended with a life-giving element from above 
the living power of the Spirit of God. If this were 
constantly borne in mind, and if the actual pulpit cor 
responded to this ideal, we should have far fewer of 
those diatribes against it with which we have been 
made so familiar in our day. 

Within the present generation the pulpit of this 
country has been exposed to rougher handling than 
usual. Something like a crusade has been preached 
against it, and as it is not believed by those who run 
it down to possess any self-reforming power, it is con 
fidently consigned to the limbus patrum, as a fossil 
of a bygone age. 

The objections to the pulpit come from various 
quarters, and possess a greater or less degree of vir 
ulence. While some would utterly demolish it, others 
would curb it or push it into a corner making it en 
durable by making it insignificant. 

1. The first blast of the trumpet against the pulpit 
in recent times appears to have come from the Trac- 


tarian school. The objection of that school to the 
pulpit was that it tended to depreciate the sacraments. 
One of the later Tracts for the Times (No. 8 7) described 
the sermon-loving spirit as the offspring of a " worldly 
system," as "not conducing to a healthful and reverential 
tone toward the blessed sacraments ; " and as " the un 
due exaltation of an instrument which the Scripture, to 
say the least, has never much recommended." We can 
easily understand this objection. It is the voice of 
the sacerdotal school, exalting the sacraments above 
the "Word, regarding the sacraments as channels of 
grace ex opere opzrato, and substituting a spirit of blind 
dreamy wonder in reference to the sacraments, for that 
intelligent appreciation of the mind and will of God as 
revealed in the Gospel which the Protestant pulpit 
fosters. It is just what we might expect that when 
men take to sacerdotalism they should disparage the 
preaching of the Word. But in the view of the 
character and tendencies of the sacerdotal theory, the 
depreciating remarks on the pulpit that have issued 
from that quarter cannot but produce an impression 
the opposite of that designed. Nor is it any contra 
diction to these remarks that in some instances, and 
for some purposes, the sacerdotal party have had re 
course to earnest preaching. In some of their mission 
services daily preaching has had a leading place. But 
it is preaching as subordinate to the sacraments and 
the Church. It is not like the preaching of the Be- 
formers not the preaching of which the sum and sub 
stance is " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou 
shalt be saved." It is rather designed to lead to the 
Church and the sacraments as depositories of the grace 
which alone fills and satisfies the sinner s heart. It 
does not say, Corne to Christ, in simple faith, that you 


may be saved, and then join the fellowship of the 
Church, that your new life may be sustained and helped 
on; but, Come to the Church which has Christ to 
give you, and which will give you Christ and salvation 
when you show your desire to receive them at her 
hand. It does not say, Look to Christ, and your 
faith will receive the grace of salvation ; then resort 
to the sacraments that you may enjoy that grace more 
largely and luxuriantly; but, Come to the sacraments 
both for the beginning and the continuance of grace ; 
you cannot find it otherwise. The essential difference 
between Popery and Protestantism is here ; nor is it 
surprising that under such a system the preaching 
should be depreciated which points every hearer at once 
to a Saviour in whom all fulness dwells. 

2. Again, it is objected to the pulpit, and especially 
to the pulpit of Scotland, that it overlays worship, casts 
into the shade the devotional parts of divine service, 
and deprives men of what is the real, the truly precious 
blessing of public worship conscious nearness to God. 
Men go to church, it is maintained, not to worship 
God, but to listen to man. The devotional services are 
called " the preliminaries," and are hurried through as 
quickly as possible that the main part of the time may 
be left for the chief part of the business the sermon. 
We freely but sorrowfully allow that there is some 
ground for this objection ; but it evidently bears not 
against the institution of preaching, but against the 
abuse of it. For neither in point of length nor of any 
thing else is it desirable or necessary that the sermon 
should be such as to monopolize attention, or supersede 
the deliberate and earnest worship of God. It ought 
beyond doubt to be subservient to such worship. 


It should go to form and foster those feelings toward 
God which find their suitable expression in acts of 
worship. If such be not its aim and tendency, it can 
not be in accordance with the mind of Christ, and it is 
certainly not in accordance with any of the models of 
preaching which are recorded for our guidance in 
the Word of God. 

Other objections to the pulpit may be stated sepa 
rately, and being somewhat kindred, answered together. 

3. It is alleged by some that the pulpit is unneces 
sary in the present age. It is an age of books and 
intelligence, and it is easy for men to get from books 
whatever religious instruction they desire, much more 
conveniently and completely than from the cursory and 
miscellaneous essays that are doled out to them from the 
pulpit. The state of matters was quite different when 
the clergy were the only educated men in a community, 
and alone in possession of the key of knowledge. The 
pulpit might be a necessity in such an age, it is no 
necessity in ours. 

4. More than this, the pulpit is an impertinence. 
It is quite opposed to the spirit of the age. This is an 
age of independent thought and critical inquiry, while 
the pulpit represents an age of authority on the one 
side, and blind submission on the other. Opinions 
now are not given forth ex cathedra. Everything has 
to run the gauntlet of criticism. The head of the 
state cannot read a speech to Parliament but next morn 
ing it is pounced on, if not torn to pieces, by a thousand 
newspapers. The pulpit, with its one-sidedness, its 
dogmatism, and its freedom from public challenge and 
criticism remains the only protected article in an age 
where every other statement of views or opinions lies 
open to the four winds of heaven. 


5. It is alleged that the pulpit is actually unworthy 
of the age. It is below the level of its intelligence and 
vivacity. It is dull, clumsy, unsuitable ; meeting no 
wants, satisfying no cravings, either of high or low. 
Ever and anon we have in our leading English news 
papers, as well as in other journals, a ran of letters and 
articles uttering and echoing these views. The dul- 
ness of sermons is proverbial ; but from time to time 
the proverb is renewed, with an additional adjective 
or two to give it force. " Modern preaching," it is 
said, " is poor." " The great majority of our religious 
teachers are feeble, incompetent." There has been of 
late comparative "failure, alike in the quality and 
quantity of pulpit power." " Preachers as a class have 
been degenerating ; or rather, to speak more correctly, 
they have failed to keep pace with the general advance 
ment around them ; the strength of English character 
goes forth in other directions ; the bone and sinew 
and muscle of the country s manhood are elsewhere 
and otherwise employed than in the pulpit, and this 
has been the case for some time past." " An enfee.bled 
pulpit, occupied rather by nice good men, to which 
there is awarded little more than a conventional re 
spect, has little to recommend it to the highest order 
of rising intellect as a sphere of earnest and ambitious 
activity." " By friend and foe a common conclusion 
seems to have been reached on this question. It is said 
that the pulpit has reached the period of its decadence ; 
that it has ceased to be a great formative power amongst 
us, and that the influence it once yielded over the 
intellect and life of the nation is gone." 

Such words may be held to express the views of 
those members of the educated class in England who 
are seriously proposing that at the close of the prayers 

D 4 


in their churches, there ought to be a pause in the 
service, to allow persons who do not care for the ser 
mon to leave, without being remarked on as ill-bred 
or careless. But in England, at all events, the dislike 
to the existing pulpit is not limited to members of 
the educated class. In an anonymous writer we find 
the following representation of the bearing and spirit 
of a great portion of the working classes of England 
towards religion and religious ordinances. We say of 
a great portion of these classes, because we believe that 
it would be a great error to regard it as true of the 

"The people en masse have come to smile both at 
religious teachers and at the system they represent. . . . 
There is so wide a gulf between the clergy and the 
great body of our working classes in our large towns, 
the former possess so little knowledge of what the 
latter are reading and thinking about and discussing, 
that evil often results from attempts to approach our 
irreligious classes. . . . The tendency here is to settle 
down into a dry, hard, unimaginative secularism, push 
ing aside, with an impatient gesture, every claim that 
may be urged in the name of religion. This tendency 
does not show itself now, as formerly, in a menacing 
attitude; but for this very reason its progress and 
ultimate results are all the more to be dreaded. The 
comparative silence that reigns just now among our 
industrial orders is full of grave admonition. I won 
der how many ministers of religion could answer 
the question, What are the working classes doing ? 
What is the tone and colour of their thoughts just 
now ? Those who know could answer in a word 
material. I believe that times of agitation, such as 
those of the days of socialism or chartism are, in some 


respects, preferable to the present treacherous still 
ness. Men at least talked and discussed then about 
something higher and more spiritual than strikes and 
co-operation schemes. Now, on the contrary, materi 
alism in some form is that to which every thought 
is given, and every energy applied. Thus we have 
atheism in fact, without the odium of the name ; 
and just here lies the danger in the present temper 
of the public mind. Formal, positive, organized in 
fidelity is not the danger of the hour, though there is 
a startling amount of this in our large towns and 
cities ; but it is a sullen, apathetic indifference, com 
bined with an eager devotion to schemes which prac 
tically ignore all religion, that is just now to be 
dreaded." l 

Such statements are made of the working classes of 
England, but the pulpit of Scotland is not exempt 
from, unfavourable criticism of the like kind. A volume 
of 250 pages, published in 1863, entitled Strictures on 
Scottish Theology and Preaching, by a Modern Calvinist, 
is perhaps the fullest criticism of an adverse kind that 
has appeared. The writer finds fault with the tone of 
stern severity which in matter and manner alike cha 
racterizes the Presbyterian pulpit ; the abstract nature 
of its lessons, dealing so much with theology, and so 
little with the actual realities of life ; the ascetic view 
which it commonly takes of the world and all that 
pertains to it; its morbid dread of encouraging self- 
righteousness, by insisting on moral duties ; its unreal 
and exaggerated pictures of humanity ; its suspicious- 
ness of the professions of men, and slowness to recognise 
what is good in them ; and pleads for " a more con 
sistent, large, and liberal explanation of the gospel, and 

1 Preachers and Preaching. By a Dear Hearer, 1862. 


an advance in all those simple and natural conceptions 
of it that may relieve God s message of the crotchets 
and incumbrances which have rendered it, to popular 
apprehension, in no small measure nugatory and 

6. Before passing from the subject of objections to 
the pulpit, let us give a sample of another kind. It is 
not directed against any want of ability or power the 
very opposite ; but against a certain inward want in 
the preacher himself, a want which, though undetected 
by almost every hearer, nevertheless robs a sermon, 
otherwise able, of all persuasive power. The critic is 
Jane Eyre the heroine, and indeed the altera ego of 
Charlotte Bronte. She is describing the effects of an 
able young preacher s sermon. " The heart was thrilled, 
the mind was astonished, by the power of the preacher ; 
neither was softened. Throughout there was a strange 
bitterness, an absence of consolatory gentleness. . . . 
When he had done, instead of feeling better, calmer, 
more enlightened by his discourse, I experienced an 
inexpressible sadness ; for it seemed to me I know 
not whether equally so to others that the eloquence 
to which I had been listening had sprung from a heart 
where lay turbid depths of disappointment, where 
moved troubling impulses of insatiate yearnings and 
disquieting aspirations. I was sure the preacher, pure- 
minded, conscientious, zealous as he was, had not yet 
found that peace of God that passeth all understanding, 
he had no more found it, I thought, than I, with my 
concealed and burning regrets for my broken idol and 
lost Elysium." 

In trying to assign their just value to such objections 
as have now been specified, we may dismiss at once 
the notions of those who think that the pulpit is a 


mere fossil of the past, doomed to oblivion, except in 
so far as antiquarian museums may preserve it, along 
with flint arrows and copper-headed spears. Christian 
preaching is a divine ordinance, and it will share the 
permanence which belongs to everything divine. We 
do not need to say of it, with trembling hearts, " Esto 
perpetua : " a voice not to be gainsaid has settled that. 

As to the relative quality of the preaching of the 
present day, the state of the question is often put 
unfairly. It is not whether there are but few great 
preachers ; it is not whether there are very many 
extremely poor preachers ; it is not whether the 
vast body of preachers are very mediocre ; but it is, 
whether in these respects the pulpit of our age con 
trasts so unfavourably with that of other ages as to 
exhibit the evidence of organic decay. That the pulpit 
has epochs of unusual brilliancy, and that the present 
is not one of those epochs, may be quite freely ad 
mitted, without allowing that its vitality is essentially 
abated, or that the time of its decadence has come. 

The answer to the objection that the pulpit is un 
necessary in an age of widely-diffused literature and 
intelligence has been given by anticipation. If the 
pulpit were a mere vehicle of instruction it might be 
relevant, but not when the living and breathing soul of 
the preacher forms an essential element in its very 
raison d etre. So also we may dismiss the objection 
that the pulpit is- an impertinence, as continuing an 
authoritative style of dealing with people in an age 
which discards such authority. If the preacher s 
function be to deliver God s message, not his own, and 
if he speak accordingly, he cannot but speak with 
authority ; but while doing so, he should take care to 
show, by his humble and loving tone, that the authority 


is all his Master s, and that for himself, he is but the 
voice of one crying in the wilderness. 

But as it regards the other objections to the pulpit, 
it is not possible to deal with them in so summary a 
way. "We believe that preachers are to be found at 
the present day whose style of ministrations justifies 
many if not all the criticisms that have been adverted 
to. We believe just as strongly that there has hardly 
ever been an age in which the same thing was not true. 
When an institution is served by so vast a number of 
office-bearers, it is easy to find enough of samples appa 
rently to justify any kind or class of accusations. But 
it does not follow that the whole institution partakes 
of the faults that are undoubtedly in some parts of it. 
How far the pulpit of the present day is liable to the 
charges we have referred to, is a question which we 
cannot settle here, but for settling which materials may 
be supplied as we proceed with our subject. One 
remark, however, in the way of caution it may be well 
to offer. There is a vast difference between criticisms 
offered on the pulpit when its origin as a divine insti 
tution is recognised, and also its great purpose for 
persuading men to believe on Christ and do his will ; 
and criticisms that regard it as but an instrument of 
human culture, designed to help men onward in the 
path of civilisation. Criticisms of the latter order have 
little claim on our consideration ; criticisms of the 
former kind, however sharp and serious, should be 
received with respect, and examined with candour. 

But apart from the question whether or not modern 
strictures on the pulpit are just, there is an obvious 
lesson to be drawn from the fact that they are so re 
markably abundant. You, students of divinity, are 
about to take up this divine weapon at a time when it 


lias fallen widely into discredit. You are about to use 
it for the highest purposes, while many are declaring 
that it is fit for no purpose. The credit of a divine 
ordinance is to be intrusted to you, and it will rest 
practically with you to show whether preaching be that 
contemptible device of human priestcraft which some 
allege, or the product of the wisdom and skill of the 
Church s Head. Surely, in such circumstances, you 
must be satisfied with no common pains to acquit your 
selves well. And the obligation to do your best in 
this matter is all the stronger, if the number of " born 
preachers" among us is small. If we have few orators 
in our ranks, who by touching some hidden spring can 
open the heart and move it at will (within the sphere 
to which human powers are equal), all the more need is 
there for the mass of young preachers to make the most 
diligent improvement of the powers they have, and 
to seek, with the utmost earnestness, to become able 
ministers of the new testament. To be an efficient 
preacher does not demand the gifts of genius ; but it 
does demand a most careful discipline of the mental 
and moral powers, a thorough knowledge of the Word 
of God, familiarity with the collateral fields from 
which the preacher s illustrations must come, familia 
rity with some of the best models of pulpit eloquence, 
personal fellowship with Christ, and much tender sym 
pathy with men. It implies a careful watch over your 
own hearts, lest the breath of temptation or the chill of 
worldliness should unfit them for your work ; and, 
finally, it implies that not only as a general habit, but 
especially when you are preparing for the pulpit, you 
shall plead the promise of the Father, that your tongue 
may be a tongue of fire, and your words words of the 
Spirit, and thereby words of life. 



IF it were necessary to vindicate the wisdom of 
Christ in making preaching the chief means of the 
establishment and extension of his kingdom, a sufficient 
defence would be found in the remarkable power which 
the Christian pulpit has wielded, especially at certain 
periods in the history of the Church. The pulpit has a 
history of its own ; and the style of eloquence that has 
characterized it in its better periods is as well marked, 
as distinctively sui generis, as that of any other kind of 
eloquence. While no other religion than Christianity has 
produced an oratory dealing with the unseen and eternal, 
the Christian preacher, at many epochs, and in not a 
few tongues, has risen to heights which no secular orator 
has approached, and has stirred men s hearts with truths 
that have gone to the very depths of their being. 

Hardly had Christ left the world, when the power of 
his institution, replenished with the might of the Holy 
Spirit, was remarkably displayed. Never before, except 
under the preaching of John and of Jesus himself, had 
such appeals fallen from human lips as those of Peter 
and his companions, and, a little further on, of Stephen, 
Paul, and Apollos. What was said of the winning man 
ners of David might almost have been said of the ad 
dresses of these preachers they " bowed the hearts of 


all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man " 
(1 Sam. xix. 14). 

The apostolic preaching was not the less powerful 
that it was so artless it was the preaching of men who, 
for the most part, had studied in no school of rhetoric 
or philosophy, and who had no skill to shape their 
message in words that man s wisdom taught ; but who, 
apprehending that message with unexampled clearness, 
feeling it with overwhelming force, and leaning with 
unwavering confidence on the Unseen Arm for power 
to send it home, poured it out in the might of the 
Spirit, making the people fall under them, not by .the 
power of man, but by the power of God. As to any 
school or form of eloquence, it cannot be said that they 
founded any ; nor can we find more for our imitation in 
the apostolic model than its directness, its simplicity, 
and moral earnestness. Even at this day, a preacher 
marked by these qualities an " apostolic" preacher, as 
we call him exercises a great influence in a commu 
nity, and if such men were only given to us in suffi 
cient numbers, there would be little need for cultivating 
preaching as an art. But while such men are occasion 
ally raised up, as at the beginning of great eras, or after 
a long slumber in the Church, or at the commencement 
of great enterprises in heathen lands, they are not com 
mon in ordinary times; and it becomes necessary to 
combine all the means by which the power of efficient 
utterance may be increased, and possession taken of 
every avenue to the heart of man. 

During the second and third centuries there were few 
great preachers. The work of Christian edification was 
carried on quietly and unostentatiously, the discourses 
consisting of simple expositions of Scripture, or exhor 
tations to steadfastness, or admonitions regarding current 


duties, dangers, and trials. The era of persecution was 
not favourable to bold, aggressive preaching ; the 
" Apologists" bent their energies on vindicating them 
selves and repelling the misrepresentations of their 
foes ; while some able minds were drawn into the 
region of philosophical speculation, and tried to re 
concile the revelations of the Gospel with the theories 
of the philosophers. In homiletical literature the 
second century is almost wholly barren ; though some 
works remain, like the Pedagogus of Clement of Alex 
andria, that were probably materials for sermons. About 
the end of the third century we find more traces of 
pulpit power. Origen, who, with all his errors, gave the 
greatest impulse to the exegetical study of the Scrip 
tures, appears to have done a great work likewise in 
elevating the pulpit. Not only by his own great powers 
as a preacher, but as the head of the catechetical 
school of Alexandria, he did much to give shape and 
form to the Christian sermon, and to establish that 
mode of address which has become so closely connected 
with Christian worship. The sermon came to have a 
wider scope and a more careful structure ; and was 
directed more systematically towards the establishment 
of the faith, the explanation of the Scripture, and the 
moulding of the hearts and lives of men. 

But if the second and third centuries were somewhat 
wanting in homiletical products, the case was wholly 
different in the fourth and fifth. The period embraced 
in the latter half of the fourth century and the earlier 
part of the fifth was one of unusual brilliancy, un 
equalled by any period in the history of the Church 
previous to the Eeformation. The union of culture 
and piety, of great oratorical gifts and great earnestness 
in preaching, was the feature of this period. Such 


names as those of Ambrose and Augustine in the Latin 
Church, and of Basil, the two Gregorys (of Nazianzum 
and Nyssa), Cyril and Chrysostom in the Greek, shed a 
singular glory over this age. The causes that conspired 
to produce this result were numerous. Christianity 
had ceased to be a despised and persecuted religion, 
and had won many devoted adherents in the highest 
circles of society, both social and intellectual. Christian 
congregations were no longer meeting in upper rooms, 
or hiding from observation in catacombs and caves, but 
assembling in spacious churches, to fill the pulpits of 
which demanded oratorical qualifications of a higher 
order. The revolting excesses of heathen luxury and 
self-indulgence had caused a strong recoil in the bosom 
of many a noble Christian ; and while such men did not 
as yet adopt all the extremes of asceticism, they made 
a vigorous protest in their own practice against all forms 
of worldly indulgence, and boldly summoned their fellows 
to follow their example. The age, too, was blessed with 
many Christian women of intense devotion, who bent 
their whole energies to induce their husbands and their 
sons to consecrate themselves to Christ. There was 
hardly one of the distinguished men whom we have 
named unconnected with a warm-hearted female rela 
tive, who as mother, sister, or grandmother, had besought 
him, with prayers and tears, to give himself to the Lord. 
The instances were numerous of men of high gifts and 
culture, who had been educated for the profession of 
lawyers or rhetoricians, abandoning their secular pur 
suits and devoting themselves to the Christian ministry. 
Sometimes they hovered for a time between the monastic 
and the active life, and even when they abandoned the 
former, they remained unmarried, and practised no small 
measure of austerity in the regulation of their lives. 


JSTo doubt they were on the very edge of that morbid 
view of the world which afterwards developed so 
disastrously into the monastic system ; but as yet the 
morbid element had not advanced much beyond the 
point at which it gives a very powerful impulse to 
self-denying zeal. When men of high birth and lofty 
character renounce the world, and, as the result of deep 
conviction, give themselves to the service of Christ, they 
are commonly distinguished by a spiritual intensity 
and earnestness beyond the common ; and when, as in 
the case of the great preachers of this era, they possess 
high talents, assiduously cultivated, the result is unique, 
and a spiritual force of remarkable efficacy is enlisted 
on the side of Christianity. 

Eemarkable though the preachers of this period 
were for ability and earnestness, we shall be greatly 
disappointed if we expect to find their homilies 
characterized uniformly by clear expositions of doctrine, 
or by solid and satisfactory explanations of Scripture. 
In both these respects they were, as a whole, far below 
the standard of the present day. We miss greatly 
in them clear statements of the way of salvation for 
sinners. But in showing the significancy and the 
practical bearing of the great facts of Christianity ; in 
rebuking the spirit that regards the interests of this 
world with more anxious concern than those of the 
world to come ; in urging men to earnestness and self- 
denial in the great duties of religion, many of the 
preachers of this period show a remarkable power. 
There is no mistaking, too, the reality and sincerity of 
their appeals to their hearers. Their tone is intensely 
real; they are doing business with those whom they 
address ; they are as far as possible from merely de 
livering essays or dissertations in their hearing. In 


tliis respect, and as a corrective to the tendency to 
heaviness with which our preachers are so much 
affected, the homilies of this period deserve the careful 
study of divinity students. And if you have not time 
to become acquainted with many of them, it is easy to 
make a selection. Augustine will naturally be selected 
from among the chiefs of the Latin Church. Among 
those of the Greek Church, Basil and Chrysostom have 
long maintained the reputation of the most eloquent 
and earnest. The great preacher of Antioch and 
Constantinople, as is well known, derived his name, 
Chrysostom, or the Golden-mouthed, from the mar 
vellous quality of his eloquence. Many of the best 
preachers of modern times have owned their obliga 
tions to Chrysostom ; nor can it be believed that 
any preacher could be familiar with his eloquent and 
powerful appeals, without imbibing something of his 
spirit, and adopting something of his manner. 

Between the fifth century and the sixteenth, the 
Christian pulpit had but little to boast of. On the 
one hand, however, there were not wanting men who 
preached a mystic devotion, or who urged the renounc 
ing of the world, like St. Bernard, or the imitation of 
Christ, after the manner of Thomas a Kempis ; and, 
on the other hand, there were missionary preachers, 
especially at the earlier period, like the Culdees of the 
school of St. Columba, who did much for spreading 
divine truth among the ignorant and careless, but of 
whose sermons we have hardly any remains. As a 
rule, however, the pulpit was feeble, and for a long 
time previous to the Reformation it had in many in 
stances been wholly neglected, or if used at all, used 
not to proclaim the way of life, but to communicate to 
the people the current and absurd legends about the 


saints. Nor is this to be wondered at. It was now 
that a system reached its full dimensions which aims 
at instructing and impressing men by a different instru 
mentality from the preaching of the Word. Eitualism, 
as a method, is essentially antagonistic to preaching. In 
its object it may not always be so ; in certain cases, no 
doubt, ritualists honestly seek to bring men s souls 
under the influence of spiritual truth. But it is cha 
racteristic of ritualism, as a method, that it aims at in 
structing, or at least impressing men through services 
that appeal to their senses, and in this respect it is 
antagonistic to preaching, which seeks by means of the 
truth to work directly on the soul. The method of 
ritualism is very tempting, where the men to be dealt 
with are ignorant, and their mental faculties have never 
been roused into activity. It seems unreasonable to 
suppose that spiritual truth* should be apprehended by 
such men directly, and the wiser method appears to be 
to treat them as children, and make their senses the 
chief medium of impression. It is forgot that there is 
nothing better fitted to exercise the mind and rouse 
its dormant faculties than the great saving truths of 
Christianity ; that there has never been any com 
munity too degraded to be beyond the reach of these 
truths when the Spirit of God has accompanied their 
proclamation ; and that the employment of the Word 
as the chief means of spiritual impression is the ap 
pointment of God, and is not therefore within the dis 
cretion of men. In point of fact, wherever external 
ordinances have been chiefly relied on as the means of 
impression, the mind has usually become stunted, and 
spiritual stagnation has followed. The dark ages were 
marked by the prevalence of ritualism, but along with 
ritualism there was the prevalence of death. 


It was inevitable, therefore, that as a general rule 
the pulpit should stagnate, while ritualism prevailed. 
It is natural to find the authorities of the Church of 
Eome resorting from time to time to new sensational 
devices, in order to stimulate the appetite which is so 
ready to tire of sensational food ; introducing miracle 
plays and passion plays, in addition to all the sensuous 
accompaniments with which they had already overlaid 
the worship ; ready to welcome every device which 
could throw fresh interest into the services of religion. 
But though here and there a voice was raised in favour 
of preaching the word of God, such a proposal was 
systematically discouraged. The pioneers of the Ee- 
formation instinctively resorted to the method of preach 
ing, and utterly distrusted and disliked the whole system 
of ritualism. Men like Savonarola and Wycliffe were 
powerful preachers of the Word, and they believed that 
that Word was capable, through the power of the Holy 
Spirit, of effecting all that was needed, to bring men to 
God and guide them in his ways. The Eeformation 
itself was the result of a revived Christian pulpit. It 
was the preaching of the Word of God that made the 
Eeformers popular, and that roused the souls of the 
people. Wherever the pulpit was set up, the Eefor 
mation spread, and wherever the Eeformation spread, 
the pulpit was set up. Where the pulpit was most 
free, and was used most vigorously, the Eeformation 
was most thorough. By and by the Church of Eome 
came to see the power of this weapon, and from time 
to time she has used it, both as a means of produc 
ing a diversion from Protestantism, and of extolling 
the authority of the Church, and the value of her 
ceremonies. But her use of the pulpit has always been 
somewhat restricted, generally in the centres of intel- 


lectual life, among educated men who were becoming 
tired of her mummeries, and sceptical of her whole 
claims and authority. It is contrary to the genius of her 
system that she should place much reliance on preach 
ing, or represent it as other than subordinate to the 
elaborate ritual in which she puts her trust. 

The Eeformation era was one of great triumph for 
the pulpit. Never was its power more conspicuously 
or more conclusively shown. The greatest revolution 
of modern times was in the main the fruit of this 
weapon. And if the preaching of the word had not been 
forcibly suppressed, if fire and sword had not stopped 
its action in France, Spain, and Italy, its triumph would 
have been still greater, and Western Europe, with but 
trifling exceptions, would have owned its power. 

The preaching of the Eeformation was a decided 
advance, in doctrinal clearness and solidity, on that of 
the fourth century, and even on the best specimens of 
the mediaeval period. Compared with the former, it 
was more clear, full-volumed, and definite ; dwelling on 
man s fallen state, and on the way of salvation through 
the sacrifice of Christ, as well as on the scriptural 
means of maintaining the life of faith and holiness, 
amid the trials and temptations of the world. Com 
pared with the preachers of the mediaeval period, the 
Eeformers were more hearty, hopeful, and rejoicing. 
Living secluded from the world, as even the best of 
the mediseval preachers did Bernard, Anselm, and the 
like and subjected as they were personally to a rigid 
discipline, they were little fitted to proclaim heartily 
the glad tidings of free forgiveness ; they rather gave 
themselves to probe hearts, to awaken pensive feelings, 
to wean from the world, and to urge the carrying of 
the cross. The preachers of the Eeformation mounted 


to a higher platform, and unfurled the true banner, the 
real Evangel, the glorious news of the Kingdom of God. 
In their lips the grace of God that bringeth salvation 
was no mere speculative dogma, it was the pearl of 
great price, it was the treasure hid in the field, it was 
the unspeakable gift of God to men. To press on 
tli em this grand discovery, to urge them to lay hold of 
this treasure and thus secure their eternal peace and 
happiness, afforded scope for the highest eloquence, 
and was fitted, indeed, to create an eloquence where it 
did not exist. There was thus a rejoicing element in 
the Eeformation pulpit, such as had not been since the 
apostolic age. The ring of Luther s joyous nature was 
in it, and the melody of his triumphant hymns, in 
opposition to the minor key of many preceding cen 
turies. It was genuine, hearty, earnest. It filled the 
world with its sound. Everywhere men were brought 
up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay ; their 
feet were set on a rock ; and a new song was put in 
their mouths, even praise to their God. 

The German pulpit, which became a great power 
under Luther and Melanchthon, has not sustained the 
fame of its early days. We all know how it was 
deadened and all but destroyed by the withering blight 
of rationalism. Towards the end of last century many 
of the sermons preached were on such topics as the 
care of health, the necessity of industry, the advantages 
of scientific agriculture, the duty of gaining a compe 
tence, the ill effects of law-suits, and the folly of super 
stitious opinions topics of which some might well 
enough form part of a parochial minister s instructions, 
but which it is fearful to think of as a substitute for 
the great and moving doctrines of sin, grace, and re 
demption. Since the revival of the evangelical spirit 



among some of her theologians, Germany has been 
more conspicuous for her important contributions to 
literature than for eminent service in the pulpit. Yet 
there are not a few names of great preachers, scattered 
along her history, which are worthy of the attention of 
the German scholar. Spener, the founder of the 
Pietists, who was preacher to the Court at Dresden, 
occupied in the pulpit the first rank in his day, and 
was in the highest repute for his sweet devoted spirit, 
and his pure eloquence, in respect of both of which he 
has been compared to Fenelon. Zollikofer, who died 
at Leipsic in 1788, was compared to Cicero. John 
Godfrey von Herder, famed in German literature, and 
Court-preacher at Weimar, who died in 1803, was an 
earnest and holy man, and his sermons are "charac 
terized by solid thought, a chaste and lofty eloquence, 
and a deep religious spirit." Beinhard, Court-preacher 
at Dresden (died 1812), was one of the princes of Ger 
man preachers ; his sermons fill thirty-five volumes, 
and are full of most interesting expositions of the 
secondary aspects of Christianity, but defective in the 
great fundamental truths. 1 Schleiermacher, Harms, 
Theremin, and Krummacher may be mentioned among 
those who have attained eminence in more recent times. 
It can hardly be said, however, that the German 
pulpit has yet attained a position corresponding to the 
extraordinary vigour and attainments of the German 
mind. We doubt whether German theologians have a 
high enough conception of preaching as the great 
method of advancing the Kingdom of God. Should 
they attain to such a conception, and should something 

1 See Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. vi. pp. 300 and 507. In vols. iv. 
and v. of the same journal will be found much information as to 
German ideas of preaching in an account, by Professor Park, of 
Schott s Theorie der Beredsamkeit. 


of the old earnestness of Luther s days come again into 
the German pulpit, the most glorious effects might be 
expected ; the German Church might become the re 
viver of the Gospel throughout Europe. 

From Germany we pass to France. The phenomenon 
that presents itself here is very remarkable. In some 
respects France was the theatre of the greatest triumphs 
of the pulpit. The Protestant Church in some degree 
shared the glory ; in solid thought and evangelical light 
and warmth no French preacher equals Saurin. Of 
Daniel de Superville, who, after the revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes, had to fly to Eotterdam, Dr. Dod- 
dridge used to say, that he never met with any French 
sermons to be compared with his, especially for beauty 
of imagery and tenderness of expostulation. But 
many of the lights of the French pulpit were in the 
Church of Eome, and, what is rather startling, some of 
them were Jesuits, though but little affected with the 
spirit of their order. They approached as near to Pro 
testantism as was possible for members of the Church 
of Eome, and, though the enlightened Protestant will 
miss in their sermons elements of great value, he can 
not fail to be charmed by their eloquence, and often 
warmed and stimulated by their fervour. 

What the French pulpit achieved in the age of 
Louis xiv. was due in chief measure to the example 
and influence of Bourdaloue. A man of high culture, 
yet earnest Christian character, breathing the aesthetic 
spirit of an Augustan age, yet weeping over its unbelief, 
profligacy, and hollowness, and feeling deeply the utter 
effeteness of the Church s ceremonial, he sought from 
the pulpit to appeal to something higher than the senses, 
to rouse the soul and conscience of his audience. 
Disdaining the empty rhetoric of his predecessors, he 


sought to express real and rousing thoughts in the 
most perfect forms of language, to make the most ex 
quisite and finished diction his vehicle for conveying to 
the highest circles the unwelcome truths which they 
were so shamefully neglecting. Bourdaloue was followed 
by Bossuet, Fenelon, Massillon, La Kue, Flechier, and 
others hardly less eminent. The pulpit became the 
great centre of attraction. " Around it gathered rank 
and fashion and royalty, and the greatest scholars and 
critics and artists, all equally thrilled, astonished, and 
delighted." l It was an age of singular brilliance, the 
age of Conde and Turenne, of Corneille and Moliere 
and Eacine, of Pascal and La Fontaine and Montesquieu, 
of Malebranche and Boileau and Fontenelle ; and yet 
the pulpit held its own in the midst of all this splendid 
rivalry. But it was not like the pulpit of the Eeforma- 
tion. Highly elaborate and artificial, it did not address 
itself to the masses, but rather to an elite circle of cul 
tivated men and women, to whom nothing is acceptable 
unless it be presented in the most faultless style. It 
did not deal so directly with the doctrines of salvation, 
nor had it the same joyous ring as the utterance of 
men who, having found the pearl of great price, were 
calling on their brothers to share the treasure. While 
it called men to tremble and be in awe before Him who 
is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, it did not so 
clearly proclaim the grace that hath appeared bringing 
salvation. It was not free from that gloomy tone 
that always characterizes the devotion of the Church 
of Rome ; it did not quite bring the worshipper away 
from the mount that might be touched, and that burned 
with fire, to the new Jerusalem with its songs of jubilee, 
or to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. 

1 Fish s History of Pulpit Eloquence., vol. ii. p. 4. 


Yet we should err much if we concluded that this 
wonderful era of the French pulpit was not worthy of 
our careful study. Mr. Jay of Bath, who was so dis 
tinguished as a plain, earnest, evangelical preacher, but 
who at the same time felt profoundly that no legitimate 
means ought to be neglected by which preaching might 
be made more interesting and impressive, learnt French 
in his old age, simply that he might be able to read 
and study the sermons of the great French preachers. 
To make them models would be out of the question, 
yet from the study of them we may gain many collateral 
benefits. The emotion that burns in them may stir our 
spirit ; the boldness and force with which they address 
the conscience may rouse our courage ; the brilliance of 
their diction may enrich our style ; their innumerable 
felicities of thought and expression may give us useful 
hints in the handling of topics which are never out of 
date, however different the circumstances of the time. 
But while we profit in these respects, we must go far 
beyond the French preachers in spiritual power; for 
they failed to arrest the growing corruption of the times, 
or to produce any such spiritual revival as that which 
followed the preaching of Wesley and Whitefield, and 
other plain but spiritual men. 

The English pulpit has never presented anything so 
systematic or so finished as the French. It has ex 
hibited a much more varied style of pulpit eloquence, 
sometimes excelling in the form, sometimes in the sub 
stance, sometimes in the spirit of preaching, and some 
times in all. The sermons of the Eeformers were not 
finished compositions, but they were the gushings of 
full and earnest hearts. In the seventeenth century 
we have two types of preaching, one more characteristic 
of Churchmen, and the other of Nonconformists. In 


general, the Nonconformists excelled in fulness of 
doctrinal statement, while the Churchmen addressed 
themselves to the practical ethics of daily life. In the 
sermons of Howe, Baxter, or Flavel, man is dealt with 
as a lost sinner, to whom the Saviour is stretching 
forth his hands, and he is urged to fly to him for 
deliverance from the wrath to come. In Tillotson, 
Barrow, South, and Atterbury, there is what we may 
call an underground recognition of redemption, but man 
is dealt with rather as a denizen of this world, where he 
has duties, trials, and temptations numberless, in the 
performance of which he needs help and guidance. 
What was once said of South, that his sermons were 
not Sabbath-day but every-day sermons, is more or less 
applicable to the whole school. Jeremy Taylor, indeed, 
stands on a higher level. But the tone of most of the 
classical preachers is somewhat cold and dry, and be 
coming more and more characteristic of the English 
Church pulpit of the eighteenth century, it reduced it 
ultimately to dust and ashes. 

Yet there are some notable qualities in the great 
Church preachers of the seventeenth century. They 
had a great faculty of planning and arranging, often a 
remarkable breadth of view, embracing all the aspects 
of their subject, and a great power of clear, correct, and 
forcible expression. The evangelical intensity which 
they lacked found its place in the Nonconformist 
pulpit, which never failed to proclaim the high doc 
trines of grace and salvation. But this severance of 
the evangelical from the ethical element the restric 
tion of the evangelical preachers to the one, and of the 
church preachers to the other was unfortunate, and 
helped, perhaps, in conjunction with other causes, to 
produce the miserable state of things in the eighteenth 


century. When at last the Nonconformist interest was 
in a great measure stamped out, the evangelical and 
earnest element nearly disappeared. 

But the extinguished torch was rekindled by Wesley 
and White field, and the pulpit resumed its former 
power. The one element which they flung into it, 
and by which it became so effectual, was gospel life. 
Then followed the great evangelical revival of the 
present century, in which Churchmen shared so largely. 
Like the Nonconformist pulpit of the seventeenth 
century, the evangelical pulpit of the nineteenth has 
confined itself almost wholly to the doctrine of salva 
tion the soteriology, as theologians call it, of Scripture 
and has bestowed only the most sparing attention on 
ethical and social questions, and on the numberless 
problems, speculative and practical, which the inquir 
ing spirit of the age is ever starting. It is another class 
of preachers than the evangelical that are now discuss 
ing these questions in the pulpit ; and in educated 
circles, while the influence of the one has been waning, 
that of the other makes steady progress. 

But while the old types of English preaching are still 
to be recognised, there is much more variety, both in 
style and matter, than in any former age. And the 
question of how the pulpit is to be made most efficient 
is as important and difficult as ever. If only it can be 
made to combine the old evangelical message with the 
guidance which men need in the special circumstances 
of the time, there is no reason why it should not have 
before it a time of as great power and as rich blessing 
as ever. 

The pulpit of Scotland has had a history of its own. 
In the early days of the Reformed Church of Scotland, 
and in the Covenanting period too, the pulpit was 


a great power. But the literary remains of the period 
do not convey a just impression of the force which 
they represent. Knox, Bruce, Rollock, Rutherford, 
William Guthrie, Livingston, and others, were doubtless 
powerful preachers. The samples that we have of 
their pulpit work, however, are somewhat uncouth, 
rough, and hard to read. Hardly any man in Scotland 
of the seventeenth century Archbishop Leighton 
excepted was a master of the English tongue. The 
truth is, their style was formed out of three languages, 
their native Scotch, English, and Latin. Latin was 
the language of theology, Scotch of the people, . and 
English of the press. It was not till towards the end 
of the eighteenth century that the English of Scotch 
writers and preachers came to approach in ease and 
finish what is to be looked for in educated men speak 
ing and writing their native tongue. 

The great feature of the Scotch pulpit has been its 
close adherence to Scripture, and its love of dogmatic and 
of Scriptural exposition. "With this its greatest masters 
have combined a closeness in the application of Scrip 
tural doctrine to the heart and conscience from which 
it is difficult to escape. But as in England, two very 
opposite types of preaching have developed themselves, 
that of warm, earnest dealing with souls on their rela 
tion to God, and that of calm, sensible, ethical instruc 
tion. The former style may be said to have culminated 
in such men as Boston of the Fourfold State, and the 
Erskines of the Secession ; the latter in Dr. Hugh 
Blair and his contemporaries. Seldom has gospel 
truth been preached with the fulness of view, the rich 
flavour, the fervour and the earnestness of Ralph and 
Ebenezer Erskine. Their preachings were evangelical 
festivals, and the feast was " a feast of fat things full of 


marrow." But, as in England, the ethical or practical 
element was but little attended to. Dr. Blair and his 
contemporaries found a neglected vein, which, however 
little fitted to supply to souls the bread of life, was at 
least left unworked by preachers of the other school. 
It is the vein which is always resorted to by men 
who wish to preach usefully without committing them 
selves, or their people, to the distinctive doctrines of 
the gospel. It is much to be regretted that evangelical 
preachers in the present day seldom give it the place 
which it holds in the Bible ; in its place in the evan 
gelical system, it would have its proper force, and there 
would be no ground for the common accusation that 
the evangelical system is not much concerned for moral 

The weak point in Scottish preaching has com 
monly been heaviness ; and this has arisen from a tend 
ency to an excess of dogmatic and expository teaching, 
and a want of familiar fellowship with the hearers in 
the ordinary moods and workings of their minds. The 
preacher has too often stood on a pedestal, delivering 
his dissertations before the people, or expounding to 
them from the Scriptures God s dealings with men in 
former days ; he has not so readily come down to their 
level, nor touched their actual feelings, difficulties, and 
aspirations, nor sought to deal with them as he found 
them, nor, taking them kindly by the hand, endeavoured 
to help them on the way to heaven, In his expositions 
of Scripture he has taken extraordinary and often weari 
some pains to explain the feelings and the actings of 
the men and women introduced to us there ; but he 
has only in the vaguest way spoken to his people of 
their own feelings, or exercised direct influence upon 
them. It was one of the great benefits conferred on 


the Scottish pulpit by Chalmers, that while he laid a 
foundation of sound dogmatic and Scriptural teaching, 
he dealt with his audience as a reality and not an 
abstraction, and in all his teaching seemed to have in 
view their actual wants and tendencies. We have a 
school of preaching rising up in our day, not always 
the most orthodox, which purposely avoids abstract 
dogma, and strives to deal only with what is living and 
stirring in the minds of the people. The true policy is 
to combine the two to combine the objective and the 
subjective to keep ever in the foreground the great 
message which God sends to men, but to give this mes 
sage not in a heavy, abstract, uninteresting form, but 
so as to take living hold of the people who are gathered 
before you. 

It is an interesting fact that the most characteristic 
contributions of America to our pulpit literature have 
been marked by this feature of adaptation. To hit the 
human heart through some joint of the armour; to 
touch its actual feelings ; deftly, sharply, palpably to 
transfix it with the arrow of conviction, so as to leave 
it in no doubt as to its being struck ; then bring gospel 
truth in its more comfortable aspects to bear on it, in a 
way equally pat and pertinent, is what an American 
can do as it is done by no other. Mr. Henry Ward 
Beecher is at once the type and the prince of such 
preachers. Popular religious literature in America 
abounds in papers of close, pithy application, compel 
ling the exclamation, " Thou art the man." Preachers 
like Dr. Cuyler and Dr. Talmage get to close quarters 
with their hearers, and having pinned them to the 
ground to show them their helplessness, encourage them 
to look earnestly to the great source of help and bless 
ing. Or, taking up the practical side of life, they point 


out to them errors and failings that are apt to escape 
their notice, and ply their conscience with the obliga 
tion to conform more closely to the high standard of 
the Divine will. 

It is a common observation that in the present age 
the pulpit is not what it was. And in one respect 
there may be ground for the remark. It has not the 
brilliancy of other times. There are not many bom 
orators in its ranks. But the general average of pulpit 
power is probably greater than at any former time. In 
any case, the lesson for us is obvious. When less is 
given of the extraordinary, more must be made of the 
ordinary. Where the soil is poorer, the husbandry 
must be better. When there are fewer men of genius, 
there must be more men of persevering industry and 
holy application. When fewer men are given, able, 
by a holy instinct, to command the attention of their 
fellows, there must be more men who are resolved, by 
God s grace, so to improve every faculty that the mes 
sage with which they are put in trust shall not suffer 
in its treatment at their hands. 



1. IT is too obvious to require proof, that the first 
quality of effective preaching is that it be Scriptural. 
The substance of the preaching must be the substance 
of the message which the minister has been called and 
commissioned to proclaim. The word spoken must be 
a transcript of the word revealed ; the preacher must 
at once receive of the Lord that which he delivers, and 
deliver to his hearers that which he receives. For the 
preacher of the gospel merely to retail the truths or 
enforce the duties of natural religion, with a slight 
colouring of Christianity, would be more preposterous 
than for a teacher of chemistry to ignore the discoveries 
of the last fifty years. Obviously the backbone of the 
Christian revelation must be also the backbone of 
Christian preaching. Man must be dealt with as a 
sinner, and told, as he was told by Christ himself, that 
the Son of Man came into the world to seek and to save 
that which is lost. There must be no concealment 
either of the nature, the desert, or the doom of sin ; 
and here, perhaps, is the point where the temptation 
to unfaithfulness is strongest ; partly because it puts a 
strain on your faculties to take in the Bible doctrine 
of sin ; partly because it demands much courage to pro- 


claim it as something which you believe ; and partly 
because such teaching interferes with a certain amiable 
feeling that likes to make things pleasant, and that 
shrinks from inflicting pain and humiliation. 

Faithful preaching must further set forth the char 
acter of God in its twofold aspect of righteousness and 
mercy ; " the Lord merciful and gracious, long-suffering 
and abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, 
transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear 
the guilty." It must draw the line between salva 
tion by works and salvation by grace ; turning the 
sinner s eyes away from himself, turning them wholly 
to the Cross. It must dwell largely on the person of 
the Saviour, and the redemption achieved by the shed 
ding of his blood. The great work of the life-giving 
Spirit, quickening the soul from spiritual death, arid 
maintaining in it the life of holiness, must have a 
prominent place. The inseparable alliance between 
privilege and duty must be brought out clearly the 
connexion between God working in the believer, and 
the obligation on him to work out his salvation with 
fear and trembling. Men must be called to lives in all 
respects well- pleasing to God, and required to maintain 
an inviolate purity of conscience, and in every relation 
of life to cultivate a self-denying spirit of love and 
goodness. This great body of truth must be pressed 
home by the solemn prospect of the great white throne, 
and the awful alternatives of everlasting bliss or misery 
that hang on the decision which men shall make. 

Keeping such truths in the centre, the preacher may* 
sweep round them in a circle wider or narrower, accord 
ing as he deems his hearers sufficiently or imperfectly 
grounded in the great central truths. Taking the whole 
Bible into account, the circumference of its teaching is 


remarkably wide. There can hardly be a greater con 
trast than that between the wide sweep of the orbit 
of the Bible, and the narrow circle which marks the 
usual limits of evangelical preaching. The majority 
of preachers adhere to a somewhat limited range of 
topics. Either it is that they are afraid to leave " the 
principles of the doctrine of Christ," though this is 
urged in the Epistle to the Hebrews, or that they fail 
to make themselves so familiar with other topics as to 
be able to preach upon them. It cannot be denied that 
there is great meagreness of ethical teaching, for ex 
ample, in most evangelical pulpits. Undoubtedly too, 
there are forms of temptation in the actual world, there 
are antidotes to the spirit of unbelief, there are quiet 
resting-places for the weary soul, there are subtle in 
citements to the higher life, there are refinements and 
beauties of Christian character, which are almost wholly 
passed over by the evangelical pulpit. There are moods 
of the soul worn by sin and the world, with which some 
of our imaginative writers can and do sympathize, but 
which are hardly ever approached by the evangelical 
preacher. And when these topics are touched, as they 
sometimes are with remarkable freshness, by preachers 
who are not evangelical, or but imperfectly, it will happen 
that many inquiring spirits are drawn away from the 
great central truths. No man ought, in any case, to 
meddle with experiences which he does not under 
stand, or to try to open doors of which he has not 
the key. But while he makes the cardinal truths of 
revelation his centre, he should try to make his circum 
ference wide enough to embrace all that is embraced 
in the Bible. There is nothing to which we are more 
prone than a narrow traditional notion of what is com 
prehended in the whole counsel of God. Little can be 


said for the preacher who fancies he knows it all, or 
who does not find on his right hand and on his left 
glimpses of unexplored territory which are continually 
inviting his research. Only let him see that what he 
does teach from the pulpit is truly the message of God, 
and not the mere fancies of his own mind. It is of 
immense service for him to be constantly recalling the 
fact that his is a message of life and death, to be spoken 
to men, "whether they will hear, or whether they 
will forbear " (Ezekiel ii. 5) ; and if in the delivery of 
ordinary messages between man and man, such as are 
now sent in thousands by the telegraph, fidelity is the 
first requisite, how much more when the message comes 
from God, and when heaven or hell hangs on the way 
in which it is received ! 

2. Next, we notice clearness as another great quality 
of effective preaching. It is plain as an axiom that no 
vivid impression of a truth can be conveyed to others by 
one who sees it mistily, and expresses it vaguely. " Fire 
low," says Dr. Guthrie, " the order which generals 
have often given to their men before fighting began, suits 
the pulpit not less than the battle-field. The mistake 
common to both soldiers and speakers is to shoot too 
high, over people s heads, missing by a want of plainness 
and directness both the persons they preach to and the 
purposes they preach for." In Tennyson s " Northern 
Farmer " the effects of this mistake are hit off with 
remarkable cleverness, though doubtless with a dash of 
exaggeration. The farmer is dying, and is turning over 
his past life in a half- accusing, half-excusing spirit. 
Naturally, he thinks of his relations to the parson, and 
here is his statement of how he improved the ministra 
tions of his spiritual guide : 


" And I hallus com d t s church afoor my Sally wur dead, 
An eerd un a bummin awaay, loike a buzzard clock ower my 

An I iiiver know d what a mean d, but I thowt a ad summut 

to saiiy, 
An I thowt a said whet a owt to a said, an I corned awa tly." 

The farmer would never have been content with this 
view of his duty if the parson had started like the 
great Preacher " Behold, a sower went forth to sow." 

It is related by an English bishop that on one occa 
sion in his youthful days, on arriving a country church 
where he was engaged to officiate, he found he had 
forgot his manuscript sermon. In the emergency he 
could think of nothing better than to give an extem 
pore address on the proofs of the being of a God. He 
found himself carried on with unexpected fluency, and 
at the close of the service he asked a plain man whom 
he found in the churchyard how he had liked his ser 
mon. " It was all very clever," said the man, who had 
entirely mistaken the purpose of the discourse, " but 
still and on, I am of opinion that there is a God." 
Perhaps the preacher might have learned more from 
this incident than the duty of plainness and directness. 
He might have learned how unwise it is to agitate 
men s minds with arguments about what they have 
never doubted, and are never likely to doubt. He 
might have learned that for such an emergency there 
are subjects far more suitable than any question of 
natural theology, and more worthy to be carried in the 
memory and kept ready for use. And he might have 
learned that it is hardly creditable to an ambassador 
for Christ to be taken at unawares on an emergency, 
and not to be able to make a plain statement of the 
great message which he is commissioned to deliver. 

It sometimes happens that plainness in the pulpit 


is hindered through an erroneous idea of what is due 
to its dignity. This leads some preachers not only to 
speak in an artificial tone of voice, but to make use of 
circumlocutions for the very purpose of avoiding 
plain terms. I have heard a preacher who had some 
objection to call Jerusalem Jerusalem, and who pre 
ferred to denote it ever so often by ten words in place 
of one, as " the place which God chose to put his name 
there." I am inclined to think that this habit arises 
from unconscious unwillingness on the part of the 
preacher to come into near mental contact with the 
people a grievous error, since such closeness of mental 
contact is one of the chief aids to spiritual impression. 
In other instances the use of unusual words is a 
wretched piece of pedantry, a device of the preacher s 
for showing off the superiority of his training to that 
of the common people. 

But a fault of this kind is trivial compared to that 
of preaching on a subject that has not been clearly 
thought out. There is a snare in natural fluency, 
the fluent man being often tempted to neglect clear 
ness and directness of statement and simplicity of 
method. He is tempted to dispense with that most 
useful, though often intensely irksome process, getting 
hold of his own thoughts, ascertaining precisely what 
they are, and separating them from every particle of 
mist and obscurity. Perhaps he thinks it enough in 
his preparation to get hold vaguely of a thought, and 
trust to its clearing itself, as it were, and coming out 
with sufficient plainness, under the excitement of de 
livery. Far more may be expected ultimately of the 
man who, though at first he sees his subject enveloped 
in an impenetrable mist, sees a fragment of an idea 
here, and the shadow of one there, and knows that there 



must be a connexion between them, but is baffled, be 
wildered, and almost maddened as he attempts to 
define and express them, perseveres, nevertheless, 
with the persistency of a martyr, jots down with his 
pencil everything as it occurs to him, concentrates his 
attention more earnestly, keeps his temper, walks about 
his room, is frequently on his knees, or with his hand 
over his eyes ; possibly finds it necessary to take a 
quiet walk in a retired place, or to wait till a night s 
sleep shall have freshened his brains, or given him a 
better point of view ; but at last, when his work is 
finished, finds an abundant recompense for these pangs 
of parturition in the clear consecutive form in which 
his thoughts come out. If we cannot but admire the 
marvellous precision, clearness, and force of the think 
ing of John Foster, it will be well for us to remember 
what labour and travail composition cost him, how 
very far the pen which he wielded was from that of the 
ready writer. Nothing can be more valuable than the 
mental discipline of clearing the obscure, and marshal 
ling the tangled in our own minds ; nor does it follow 
that the same toil and trouble will always be required. 
He who is thus resolute in his purpose to see clearly 
himself before he shall attempt to teach another, will 
reach a habit of clearness which by and by will super 
sede the necessity of the efforts through which it was 

3. A third quality of effective preaching is adap 
tation to the capacity and circumstances of the 
hearers. Of all public speakers, the preacher has 
most need to cultivate this quality. An ordinary 
congregation presents more variety of capacity than 
almost any other audience. Persons may be found in 
it of almost all varieties of education, from the most 


crass Boeotian to the most cultivated sage. The 
child of eight will be sitting side by side with the 
grandfather of eighty, and the babe in Christ with the 
mother in Israel, who, taught for half a century by the 
Holy Ghost, has been gaining wonderful insight into 
the things of God. One hearer will be ignorant of the 
very elements of Bible history and theological know 
ledge : another will possess an acquaintance with both, 
wonderful for his years and opportunities. The ability 
to feed the sheep and the lambs together, to write like 
the Apostle in the same letter to little children^ and 
to young men, and to fathers in Christ, is a marvellous 
achievement of Christian tact and wisdom. 

For enabling a preacher to test the capacity of his 
audience, it is of the greatest importance for him to 
come as much as possible into contact with them, by pas 
toral visiting, private conversation, and Bible classes. 
As a general rule, it will be best for him to adapt his 
course of instruction to their average capacity, and to 
make occasional excursions or episodes, as it were, for 
the benefit of those who are either above or below the 
average standard. In general, we may say that the 
more biblical any discourse is, the more will it be 
found to suit the several varieties of capacity. Our 
Lord s own discourses are full of instruction on this 
point. And many of them, his parables for example, 
had this remarkable feature, that while fitted to interest 
all classes, even the humblest, they were adapted at 
the same time to give exercise to minds of the highest 
calibre, suggesting views of truth which such minds 
might find it most useful to ponder. And generally, 
the Bible, from first to last, will be found to be quite a 
model of adaptation to all the diversities with which 
the Christian minister has to deal, both in its general 


adaptation to the average capacity, and in the portions 
which are specially fitted for those above that standard 
and for those below. 

Let it be observed, however, that while a preacher 
must aim at hitting the existing capacity of his audi 
ence, he ought at the same time to try to enlarge it, to 
accustom them to the higher levels of truth and experi 
ence. Some ministers have been wonderfully success 
ful in this way ; not merely conferring benefit on indi 
viduals in their flocks, but educating the flock itself 
expanding its intellectual and spiritual capacity, and 
enabling it to find enjoyment and profit in regions that 
would at one time have seemed dark as a mine or in 
accessible as an Alpine peak. In such cases, the effect 
has been largely due to the silent impression which an 
able and well-instructed, and at the same time modest 
man produces of the reality of these higher levels, and of 
the precious deposits which they afford, by creating a 
strong sympathy with himself. He lifts them up, or ex 
cites in them the desire to rise, whereas an instructor who 
is himself content to dwell in the more common levels, 
creates no conception of anything higher, and inspires 
no upward desire. It is between two extremes that 
the true preacher must steer : preaching too high, 
where the people cannot rise with him, and preaching 
so low, that they have no wish to rise. The golden 
mean is to strike their original capacity, but carry them 
gradually up. 

4. In all effective preaching there is an arresting 
element. It must seize hold on the actual thoughts 
and feelings that are stirring in the breasts of hearers, 
and use them as auxiliaries for spiritual impression. 

It is of great importance, in this point of view, to 
get a common starting-point with one s hearers. This 


is often furnished by special occurrences, remarkable 
providences that every one is struck by ; or by human 
feelings, common to most men, but that commonly lie, 
as it were, in deep rock-pools, seldom stirred by other 
hands. Very often the preacher will excite a wonder 
ful interest by quietly using his own experience of sin 
and infirmity, hope and fear, joy and sorrow, of effort 
and disappointment, as the basis of his instructions. 
Few that have done so have failed to meet with illus 
trations almost ludicrous of the remarkable degree to 
which their lessons have struck home. A hearer will 
sometimes ask a friend with the most ingenuous solici 
tude, " Who could have told the preacher all about 
me ? I felt that he was describing me to the very life." 
Most likely the preacher did nothing but delineate 
some common human experience : e.g. the disgust one 
has in certain moods of mind at some besetting sin ; 
the vivid conviction at these times that one will never 
again fall into it ; the gradual unconscious disappear 
ance of that conviction, and one s horror at discovering 
by and by that one has fallen into it as badly as ever. 1 
This mode of rousing living feeling in the heart of a 
hearer has an effect on the mind corresponding to that 
of a touch on the body. Abstract discussion may leave 
a hearer utterly unmoved, as much so as if he were 
asleep. But touch such a person, even though his face be 
turned in the opposite direction ; the effect is first a 
surprise, then a concentration of his attention upon 

1 "A man," says Cecil, " who talks to himself will find out what 
suits the heart of man ; some things respond, they ring again. 
Nothing of this sort is lost upon mankind ; it is worth its weight 
in gold for the service of the minister. He must remark too what 
it is that puzzles and distracts the mind ; all that is to be avoided. 
It may wear the garb of deep research, great acumen, and exten 
sive learning ; but it is nothing to the mass of mankind." 


you. So if you come into contact with a hearer s mind 
by rousing some living thought or feeling, the effect is 
first a surprise, and then a concentration of his atten 
tion. And for a time at least he is at your command, 
he will hear anything you may say. The metaphorical 
meaning of the word " touch " illustrates our position. 
A touching appeal is an appeal that rouses a living 
feeling, a chord vibrating in your soul conies into 
contact with a corresponding chord in another s, and 
sets it vibrating too ; and when the power is wielded 
by a man of much emotional sensibility, the effect is 
thrilling and overwhelming. Practically, this meta 
phorical use of the word touch is limited to the more 
tender feelings, and hence " touching " and " pathetic " 
are pretty nearly synonymous, as applicable to a dis 
course. But let the feeling be tender or otherwise, if 
you rouse it into life by what you say, your hearer lies 
for the time at your mercy, he is compelled to attend. 
But whether by a touch or otherwise, it is of the 
greatest consequence to a preacher to get his lessons 
associated with something that has life and motion in 
the heart of his hearers. A dry preacher is one that 
pays no regard to this law of interesting discourse, but 
is content to let the stream of his thoughts, if there be 
a stream, flow on, without an attempt to bring them 
into contact with any thought or feeling that is active 
in his hearers. A commonplace preacher, in like man 
ner, is content to utter statements, not because they are 
fitted to lay hold of anything living, or give life to any 
thing dead, but simply because they are the things 
that it is most proper to say on the subject. No 
amount of fluency can atone for this defect. A flow of 
words without one arresting thought may split the ears 
of the groundlings, but it is miserable work. Such 


preaching can never stir heart and soul. It may pro 
duce a sleepy acquiescence, or a stupid murmur of 
approbation, or even admiration, but that is all. On the 
other hand, there are low clap-trap arts which some 
preachers resort to for the purpose of creating a sur 
prise. There are men who utter outre things from the 
pulpit, on a principle not much higher than that on 
which the clown in a pantomime throws his body into 
grotesque attitudes, or wears a dress of motley. There 
are tricks of sensationalism, of which it is enough to 
say that no great preacher would ever demean himself 
by resorting to them, and which ought to be treated as 
the mean dodges of quacks, incapable of gaining atten 
tion by legitimate means. If educated men know so 
little of what is stirring in the minds and hearts of 
their fellows, and have so few resources for attaching 
the great lessons of Christianity to these, as to be 
obliged to resort to the outrtf and the sensational, it is 
surely an indication that they are unequal to their 

5. A fifth quality of effective preaching is its making 
use of a variety of faculties, in order to obtain access to 
the souls of the audience. It is not content to gain or 
to hold possession by a single avenue, such as the 
reasoning faculty ; it aims to bring into play the whole 
round of faculties by which the mind can be approached 
or influenced. In other words, it seeks to make the 
mode of appeal as varied as it is found to be in the Bible. 

All of us have probably known instances of very 
admirable discourses failing to produce much impres 
sion, because from first to last they were addressed to 
the logical faculty, and when that faculty became tired, 
as in uneducated hearers it does very quickly, no other 
was called in to relieve it. Men who are trained to 


follow the movements of the logical faculty may indeed 
find much pleasure in discourses where it is used 
almost alone, but used to excellent purpose ; few intel 
lectual treats are greater than a piece of powerful 
reasoning, where, either by strong clear statements that 
commend themselves to our intuitions, or by more 
formal modes of reasoning, light is thrown on the 
obscure, and truths that lay in shadowy corners are 
brought out into the clear sunshine. But in preaching, 
even the most logical minds are intolerable if their 
logic is not steeped, so to speak, in emotion; great 
masters of the art, like Jonathan Edwards or Canon 
Liddon, would be utter failures if the fervour of a burn 
ing heart did not glow in their discourses. Cold logic, 
like that of Butler s Analogy, is utterly unsuitable for 
public preaching. In common minds, and indeed it 
might be said in all minds, the imagination is of great 
service as a handmaid to logic. It is easily excited, 
even in the uneducated; it works for a considerable 
time not only without fatigue, but with an intense sense 
of enjoyment. Appeals to the feelings are also very 
effective, when managed with skill and moderation ; 
but it must be remembered that if the feelings do not 
respond to such appeals, they are liable to become har 
dened, and if, being tender and excitable, they do respond, 
they are easily overpowered. The same remark may be 
made of the conscience. Obviously the part of a skilful 
preacher is to appeal in due proportion to all the facul 
ties, just as we find them appealed to in the Word of 

Take, for example, the Epistle to the Eomans. There 
is noble exercise afforded there for the logical faculty, 
especially in the earlier chapters ; but that unrivalled 
epistle would have been a very different production had 


no other faculty been appealed to. How skilfully, all 
through, are the other faculties called into operation ! 
What a striking summons, for example, is given to 
conscience in the beginning of the second chapter, 
"And thinkest thou this, man, that judgest them 
that do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt 
escape the righteous judgment of God ? " Nothing, by 
the way, can be more effective than to wake up 
conscience by a sudden and unexpected appeal like 
this : as it is done in some of our Lord s parables, or in 
Nathan s parable of the ewe lamb. It is like the sud 
den uncovering of a masked battery in war. In another 
part of the epistle we find the moral instincts or intui 
tions brought skilfully into play : " If our unrighteous 
ness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we 
say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I 
speak as a man.) God forbid ; for then how shall God 
judge the world ?" A little further on we are borne on 
the outspread wings of imagination to hear the creation 
groaning and travailing in pain, and waiting for the 
adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. And in 
other places our feelings are laid siege to and carried 
captive " the depth of the riches both of the wis 
dom and knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are his 
judgments, and his ways past finding out !" It is this 
variety of appeal that makes the Bible such a lively 
book, such a contrast to the productions of those who 
for ever address themselves to a single faculty, and are 
sure to wear out their hearers. The best preachers in 
this respect are doubtless those who with as little effort 
as is apparent in the case of our Lord, or in that of St. 
Paul, are able to appeal to the several faculties in due 
proportion, and to get the best work out of each. In 
no case, of course, must the reasoning faculty be denied 


its own place. It is less shy, and at the same time 
more honest, than the feelings, which, if pressed too 
hard, will hide themselves altogether, or give, at best, 
but a one-sided decision. Direct appeals to the feel 
ings are effective in proportion as they are rare. It is 
better to aim as a habit at moving them by sympathy ; 
if the feelings of the preacher be moved intensely by 
what he utters, that will serve to move the feelings of 
his audience. Indeed, it is only when the feelings of 
an audience have been brought up to a certain pitch 
by this process, that the direct appeal carries the day. 

6. From the preceding remarks it follows as a corol 
lary that in effective preaching copious illustration is 
almost always indispensable. 

The capacity of the human mind to appreciate 
resemblances and contrasts is one of its most invariable 
characteristics, and it may readily be turned by the 
preacher to invaluable account. It enables him to lay 
stepping-stones along paths where otherwise he could 
not hope to conduct the larger portion of his hearers. 
It lends bright hues to subjects which would other 
wise be too sombre, and catches the attention that in 
cases innumerable would be sure to be lost. It is in 
this light that we speak of it now. When ordained to 
the charge of his first congregation, the late Dr. Guthrie 
determined that whatever he might fail in, he would 
compel his hearers to attend. Watching, in the course 
of his first efforts, to discover what part of his discourses 
seemed to be most attended to, he saw that it was the 
illustrations. He accordingly resolved to cultivate that 
department of composition with peculiar care. Culti 
vate it he did, and to the greatest purpose : for a greater 
master of illustration has never appeared in the pulpit, 
nor one who by means of it could more closely rivet the 


attention of his audience. But the copious use of 
illustration has a higher sanction. Our Lord s own dis 
courses abound in it. His parables are illustrations 
all through. The Sermon on the Mount has hardly 
started before we find the salt of the earth, the light of 
the world, the city set on an hill, the candle under a 
bushel, and the candle on the candlestick. In their most 
solemn and impressive periods, too, Christ s discourses 
are pointed with illustrations. The Sermon on the 
Mount fills us with an overwhelming sense of the retri 
butions of the day of doom, by the illustration of the 
house on the rock and the house on the sand. The 
parable of the last judgment makes a similar impression, 
by the illustration of the shepherd dividing his sheep 
from the goats. Nothing could repress the outflow of 
illustration from the mind of Jesus. In the deepest 
agony of the garden, his sufferings were spoken of as a 
cup. The farewell discourse begins with the house of 
many mansions, has for its central subject the vine and 
its branches, and pretty nearly ends with the woman in 
travail having sorrow when her hour is come, but after 
the child is born, forgetting her anguish for joy that a 
man is born into the world. Probably it is not less 
instructive in another connexion, that there are no 
figures, and hardly any illustrations, in the intercessory 
prayer. God did not need them when the address was 
to him. But on the way to Calvary the ever busy faculty 
again asserts itself in the address to the daughters of 
Jerusalem " If they do these things in the green tree, 
what shall be done in the dry ? " 

There is this further to be said in favour of illustra 
tion, that it is adapted to take hold of all classes and 
ages of hearers. An apt illustration is fitted to interest 
the most cultivated philosopher and the youngest 


child. Illustration, in fact, is one of the chief instru 
ments for enabling a preacher to fuse his audience 
together, and treat it as a unity. Some parts of a dis 
course may be adapted to one class, and some to 
another ; but the illustrations are for all. They are the 
pictures of spoken instruction. Pictorial illustrations 
of Scripture, provided they be true, even if slight and 
almost rude, are not beneath the notice nor the interest 
of the most intellectual reader. And it is one of the 
signs of the times that illustrated works are far the 
most popular. Illustrated sermons are popular too. 
And where the illustrations are wanting, the sermon is 
like a tree in winter, or a skeleton, or the bare ribs of 
a ship on the stocks : skilfully constructed, it may be, 
but incomplete, and very soon tiresome. 

Of course, the illustrations, even when good, and in 
good taste, may be overdone. Illustration may be so 
superabundant as to overlay instruction, and make the 
discourse illustration et prceterea nihil. Care must be 
taken that a good body of solid instruction underlies the 
more illustrative part. How wonderfully this was veri 
fied in the discourses of our Lord a single instance will 
suffice to show. In a sense, the parable of the sower 
was all illustration, but it was not illustration et prce- 
terea nihil. There lay, underneath every one of its 
figures, an amazing amount of solid truth a nucleus, 
so to speak, capable of being expanded to an all but 
unlimited extent. Little can be said either for the 
wisdom or the loyalty of the preacher who, affecting to 
despise illustration, disdains to cultivate it. In the case 
of some students there is a tendency to this error, and 
in that of others a tendency to a style of gorgeous or 
tawdry embellishment, which is to genuine illustration 
as Brummagem trinkets to real jewels. 


If you wish to understand the real art, make your 
selves familiar with the best models. If you wish 
to train yourselves to the habitual use of suitable illus 
tration, teach a class of children. In breaking down 
scriptural truth to them, and getting them to understand 
it, you will constantly find the benefit of illustration. 
Men are but children of a larger growth, and the habit 
which you learn in dealing with the young will be of 
eminent service in dealing with the old. In dealing 
with children you are not likely to introduce illustra 
tions merely for their own sake. You are not likely to 
get them up elaborately, as if your object were to show 
how beautiful a picture you can draw. Mr. Euskin 
maintains, elaborately and truly, that whenever Art sets 
up on its own account, when it becomes the end of its 
own existence, instead of the handmaid of truth and 
the spur to duty, it loses its legitimate function, it 
becomes a bastard. The same is true of the art of 
illustration. Illustration ought always to be trans 
parent, never opaque. It ought to make what is on 
the other side of it more clear, but never to hide it. In 
the case of a Christian sermon, it should make the 
Saviour, his person and his work, more conspicuous and 
more commanding. Dr. Kidder * gives an anecdote of 
a Spanish painter of the Lord s Supper that illustrates 
this " It was his object to throw all the sublimity of 
his art into the figure and countenance of the Saviour ; 
but on the table, in the foreground of the picture, he 
painted some cups, with such extraordinary beauty and 
skill that the attention of all who came to see the pic 
ture was at once attracted to the cups, and every one 
was loud in their praise. The painter observing this, 
saw that he had failed in his design of directing atteii- 

1 Homiletics, p. 185.* 


tion to the principal object in the picture, and exclaim 
ing, I have made a mistake, for these cups divert the 
eyes of the spectator from the Master ; he immediately 
seized his brush and dashed them from the canvas." 

So should we dash from our sermons every ornament 
and illustration that obscures truth rather than brightens 
it, and throws its shadow on Him whom every power 
should be employed to delineate " fairer than the chil 
dren of men." 



IN all effective preaching, one share of the effect is 
due to the matter, and another to the man ; to the 
former we adverted in the last chapter, the latter we 
proceed to treat of now. The question now is, What 
are the more personal elements which bear upon the 
effective presentation of truth to a Christian congrega 
tion ? it being always borne in mind that the efficient 
power in the highest sense is the power of God and not 
of man. 

1. To begin with : the preacher must himself be 
interested in what he preaches to others. Interested, 
we say ; but that is a feeble term, not expressing by 
any means all that needs to be aimed at, but only the 
first element in the process. The opposite extreme to 
what we now notice is, when the preacher is so lifeless 
and careless as to go through his discourse as a mere 
matter of formal duty, much as he might go through a 
sermon written in an unknown tongue. It is not likely 
that in any church where the approval of the congre 
gation counts for anything this extreme will often be 
found. But without approaching such an extreme, a 
preacher from various causes may deliver a discourse 
on an important topic without being himself interested 
in it, or without being interested in it at the time. 


Suppose that lie hastily preaches a discourse prepared 
years before, without taking any pains to get it fresh 
into his own mind and soul, the probability is that it 
will be to his audience like ditch-water, rather than a 
draught from a limpid stream. To be really effective, 
it must be a river of living water ; it must be the ex 
pression of thoughts and feelings that are alive within 
him, not dropping out helplessly, like water from a 
leak, but streaming forth with the freshness and energy 
of a bubbling fountain. And this condition is by no 
means inconsistent with the great requisite that what 
he preaches be essentially the thoughts and word of 
God. For as the water that issues from a fountain 
comes originally from the clouds, but in its passage 
through the earth acquires the sharpness and sparkle 
of spring- water ; so divine truth, coming first from 
above, but passing through the soul of the preacher, 
acquires that element of freshness on which, under 
God, its efficacy depends. "Whosoever drinketh of 
the water that I shall give him," said our Lord, " shall 
never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him shall 
be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting 
life" (John iv. 14). 

If, then, you would interest others in what you 
preach, you must pour out the contents of some of the 
fountains that Christ has filled in your own soul. It 
must be something that has come home to yourself 
not a mere bundle of excellent remarks, or a rechauffe 
of other men s thoughts. Besides the more direct and 
obvious advantages of this, it will greatly aid you in 
the business of delivery. It will enable you to dis 
pense to a large extent with rules and directions on 
that subject. Almost without an effort, it will make 
your delivery natural and effective. 


It lias sometimes happened that in the early part of 
his ministry a preacher, though with excellent material, 
has been dry and ineffective, but with the growth of 
his own mind, and the enlargement of his spiritual 
resources, he has been emancipated from his thraldom, 
and has learned to speak with warmth and power. 
One explanation of his early dry ness will probably be 
found to be that what he preached then was not 
thoroughly his own. It was his own composition no 
doubt, and it was his own too, perhaps, as being what 
he conscientiously and justly regarded as God s truth ; 
but it was put together somewhat artificially accord- 
ing to the requirements of a system which he loved 
and honoured as scriptural and sound. His sermons 
were rather drawn from well- filled theological cisterns 
than from fountains which God s Spirit had opened in 
his own soul. But as his acquaintance grew with the 
Word of God on the one hand, and with the human 
heart on the other ; as he learned better how to digest 
the one, and how to apply it to the other, he began to 
find more of these fountains bubbling up within. He had 
more living thoughts and feelings of his own on divine 
things. They were not less God s truth than before, 
but by the process of appropriation and digestion they 
had become more his own. And so his preaching 
came to have a new life and interest about it. Age 
seemed to make him younger and fresher he realized 
the figure of the cedar and the palm tree brought 
forth fruit in old age was fat and flourishing (Ps. xcii. 
14). It must be obvious that such a process as this, 
while it makes sermons much more interesting to 
hearers, renders the business of preparing and preaching 
them infinitely more pleasant also to the preacher 


Great preachers have commonly felt many such 
springs of heaven-born thought and feeling stirring 
in their hearts, and have been eager to pour them 
ou t like Elihu, who could not restrain himself after 
hearing all that Job s three friends had said, 
"For I am full of matter, the spirit within me con- 
straineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine that hath 
no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles" (Job 
xxxii. 18, 19). To such a person there must be fre 
quently a difficulty in preaching right on through a 
book of Scripture, or a course of subjects. It can 
hardly fail to happen that topics turn up in such a 
course which, at the first blush at least, have little or 
no fresh interest for him, and on which he finds it 
either impossible, or at least very difficult, to be him 
self. And yet it is remarkable how often a well-fur 
nished active mind will succeed in conducting unlikely 
subjects into some of its favourite currents of thought, 
and imparting to them at least a measure of freshness. 
A similar difficulty often presents itself when it is 
attempted to preach old sermons. Some great men 
Dr. Chalmers among the rest have had a wonderful 
faculty of feeling freshly and vividly on subjects which 
they have discussed again and again. But with ordi 
nary men it is different, The fountains of interest 
and feeling are sometimes intermittent, or, like some 
famous spas, they may dry up at one place to burst 
out at another. The repetition of an old discourse, 
with which one has been unfamiliar for some time, is 
always a somewhat perilous experiment, and is not 
likely to be resorted to by the conscientious preacher 
unless he still feels a fresh interest in the subject, or 
takes some pains, by additions or otherwise, to connect 
it with processes that are active in his own mind. 


2. The next quality we mention is, in one sense, 
only the superlative degree of that which has just been 
illustrated earnestness. Earnestness presupposes an 
intense interest in the subjects of one s preaching ; but 
besides this, it has vividly before it the circumstances 
of the audience ; it feels the awfully solemn nature of the 
truths proclaimed to them, and its very soul flows out in 
the longing desires it cherishes and the appeals it makes 
for their everlasting welfare. If the main function of the 
preacher were to reiterate the truths of natural religion, 
and to urge men to be more conscientious and consistent 
in their lives, there might be less occasion for the quality 
we now speak of; and the frigidity of Unitarian pulpits, 
and of the old Moderate pulpits of Scotland, where the 
aim was not much higher, has become matter of notoriety. 
But it is otherwise when the preacher has to address 
immortal beings lost and ruined through sin, to tell 
them of the blessed propitiation, and to urge them to 
commit their souls at once to the Saviour, under fear of 
a doom more aggravated than ever, if their other sins 
be crowned by their rejection of him. If all careless 
ness in regard to important interests be offensive, 
carelessness in the handling of such themes must be 
surpassingly so. No man can estimate the deadening 
effect of an address handling such topics as these in 
a cold or indifferent tone. Garrick, it is well known, 
was once asked by a clergyman how it was that he, 
the actor, dealing in fictions, made so powerful an 
impression, while the clergyman, dealing in realities, 
sent the people to sleep. " Because you treat realities 
as if they were fictions, and I treat fictions as if they 
were realities." It is of all things most incumbent 
on the minister of Christ to treat realities as realities. 
And in order to this it is equally indispensable that 


lie feel them as realities himself. For there is an 
earnestness which is not real but assumed, and which 
can never accomplish the end of that which is real. 
There is such a thing as a got-up manner, an artificial 
vehemence of tone, a violent gesticulation in the pulpit, 
which, however it may please the ignorant, has only 
the effect of sham and clap -trap on the genuine heart. 
To speak earnestly one must feel earnestly on subjects 
of such awful solemnity. And that earnest feeling is 
something not to be sought merely before preaching, 
or in the process of preaching, but to be habitually 
cherished, and often renewed and intensified, during the 
whole course of our lives. 

There are some aspects of human life which are fitted 
to create a certain feeling of earnestness in the heart 
of any man of ordinary sensibility and benevolence, 
whether he be a Christian or not. But this feeling by 
no means comes up either to the pitch or the quality 
of evangelical earnestness. At the brightest, human 
society is a chequered scene. To most men, life s little 
span is crowded with sorrows and disappointments, 
often bitter beyond expression, and protracted beyond 
the hope of remedy. Philanthropy is moved by the 
spectacle, and labours to mitigate these sufferings. But 
this philanthropy is not tantamount to evangelical love, 
although often, directly or indirectly, set in motion by 
it. The Howards and Wilberforces, the Chalmerses 
and Shaftesburys that have shown most anxiety for the 
relief of human suffering, have in point of fact been 
men of earnest evangelical views. But the spirit that 
animates the right-hearted minister of the gospel is far 
deeper than that of common benevolence, and the 
sorrow that compassionates men s miseries in this 
world is in him but the lighter play of that deep and 


awful emotion which is roused by the thought of their 
state before God, and their hopeless condition for the 
life that is to come. 

So solemn and awful are the views of life and eternity 
presented in the Word of God as applicable to a large 
proportion of the men around us, that were it not that 
our nature, by its very structure, is incapable of per 
petually realizing the awful, or of living in the future, 
the evangelical minister would be overshadowed by a 
continual horror. As it is, if his heart be true, as often 
as he thinks vividly of the state and prospects of a world 
that lieth in wickedness, he must feel a new impulse 
to earnestness in inviting sinners to lay hold on the 
Saviour. His soul will be stirred to its depths as he 
pleads with God to open their hearts, and draw them to 
Himself. And even after this great object has been 
gained, there are ulterior objects that must continue to 
exercise the most earnest feelings of his heart. There 
are old habits which the new convert must be induced 
to abandon ; there are holy graces which he must be 
trained to covet ; there are enterprises of Christian love 
in which he must be enlisted. The spirit of evangelical 
earnestness implies a heart panting for such results, and 
incapable of rinding rest until the objects of its solicitude 
are in full training for the inheritance of the saints in 

In the pursuit of these objects, the earnest preacher 
combines the coolness of a man of business with the 
tire of a warrior. Professor Blackie has given a striking 
definition of the earnest preacher " a man of business 
on fire." A man of business having a special business 
to transact, a definite object to accomplish, requiring the 
use of means adapted to the end, arguments, illustra 
tions, and appeals that must be thought over, put in 


proper form, and arranged in due order, as carefully as 
an engineer plans a bridge, or a general arranges 
his army. But once the materials are chosen and 
made ready, the process itself needs to be carried on 
at a red heat. Unless it is besieged with urgency 
and fervour, the citadel of Mansoul had better be let 
alone. The neglect either of the business element or 
of the propelling element in the process is disastrous. 
Artillery without powder and powder without artillery 
are equally in vain. If you neglect the business part, 
if you are not provided with solid reasons in orderly 
array, your harangue will become rant soft, pulpy 
declamation, with little power to move. If you have 
an ample stock of strong considerations but no fervour to 
propel them, your arrows will fall at your feet, instead 
of sticking fast in the hearts of the people. The great 
preachers of all times and countries have been marked 
by both qualities. The resources of well-trained and 
well-furnished intellects, and the fervour of deeply- 
exercised hearts, have been yoked together for their 
pulpit work. They have tried to open their hearts to 
the full influence of the solemn truths of revelation 
placed them, as it were, at the very roots of their being, 
and sought to have their hearts saturated by them ; and 
they have diligently trained their faculties of thought 
and speech to give expression to their convictions in a 
suitable way. It is recorded of William Burns, so 
eminent as an earnest preacher, that, in his youth, his 
mother on one occasion observed him walking in deep 
reverie in a side -street in Glasgow. Though she went 
up straight to him, he was quite unconscious of her 
presence, and started, when addressed, as from a dream. 
" Oh, mother/ he said, with deep emotion, " I did not 
see you; for when walking along Argyle Street just 


now, I was so overcome with the sight of the countless 
crowds of immortal beings eagerly hasting hither and 
thither, and all posting onwards towards the eternal 
world, that I could bear it no longer, and turned in here 
to seek relief in quiet thought." 1 

3. Kindred to the qualities of efficient preaching 
now considered, is a third affectionateness. The com 
mand to " speak the truth in love " (Eph. iv. 1 5) is of 
course not equivalent to a command to speak it in soft 
ness, or to serve it up like sugar-plums, in the manner 
that has been called the "goody-goody" style. It is 
not a command to intersperse discourses with many 
epithets of endearment, a thing which our blessed Lord 
dealt in very sparingly, and which even the most warm 
hearted of his apostles, John and Paul, did not employ 
much. Such endearing words, when they do occur in 
the epistles, are generally near the close, after the 
writer s heart has warmed with his subject, or with some 
very pathetic thought which has presented itself to 
him. Christian affectionateness does not imply the 
opposite of manliness, but is rather the true quality of 
manliness. It is a quality, in the handling of divine 
truth, which, among hearers, the manly heart desiderates, 
and which, among preachers, the manly heart tries to 
supply. It certainly does not imply anything that 
would prevent the outburst of holy indignation on 
occasions suitable to the expression of such a feeling ; 
for neither our Lord, nor John, nor Paul had any diffi 
culty in giving expression to indignation, on suitable 
occasions, in the most unqualified terms. Indeed, there 
is something almost startling in the thunder-like roll 
of denunciation, not uncommon in David and the 
prophets, which both our Lord and his apostles poured 

1 Memoir, p. 53. 


out, and which, on the very eve of his martyrdom, the 
meek heart of Stephen poured out, in reproof of the 
wickedness which was directed against them. Observe, 
however, that indignation is properly a burst, and is 
therefore entirely different from a settled harshness or 
hardness of temper. Observe, too, that the wickedness 
with which the prophets and also our Lord and his 
apostles had to contend, was of the most undisguised 
and outrageous character; and observe further, that if 
you have singleness of eye, and if you hold pride, selfish 
ness, and irritability in check, there is hardly any risk of 
your mistaking the occasions on which indignant denun 
ciation is the proper mode of dealing with wickedness. 

These exceptional cases, however, do not invalidate 
the position that a tone of affectionateness is both the 
right ordinary tone for the preacher, and that this tone 
is especially to be cultivated when disagreeable truth 
has to be spoken, or when a spirit of opposition has to 
be overcome. For the preacher is one who has to win 
souls, and there is no way of winning without love. 
The preacher is the representative of the great Father, 
whose great power for winning men back to himself is 
love : " I drew them with cords of a man, with the 
bands of love " (Hosea xi. 4). The gospel of which he 
has charge is the gospel of infinite love. " God so 
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but 
have everlasting life" (John iii. 1G). To preach such a 
gospel, to represent such a God, without the habitual 
spirit of love, would be as outrageous as for the bearer 
of a flag of truce to scatter oaths and curses among 
those whom he invited to peace. 

We have said that there is a special call on the 
Christian preacher to stir up the spirit of love when 


disagreeable truth has to be spoken, and when a spirit 
of opposition has to be overcome. Disagreeable truth 
such as the doom of the sinner, the divine retribution 
on sin, the awfulness of the wrath to come. To handle 
such topics in ordinary circumstances in a tone of stern 
severity is utterly revolting, and one cannot but admire 
"the question of M Cheyne, when, in answer to his in 
quiry, a brother minister told him that his sermon on 
the previous day had been on the punishment of the 
wicked. " And were you able," asked he, " to preach 
it tenderly ?" There are not a few subjects in our 
theology that are capable of becoming frightfully 
repulsive in the hands of hard and heartless preachers, 
and in such a case the more able the sermon the more 
terrible is the perversion it is likely to cause. 

But if it be incumbent on preachers to stir up the 
spirit of love when painful truth has to be spoken, it 
is still more so when opposition has to be overcome. 
Guardians of divine truth are very liable to excited 
feeling. It is an unpleasant thing when your hearers 
will not attend to you. It is still more so when they 
actively oppose you, or when persons, who are not your 
hearers, oppose you. It is deeply unpleasant when 
truths that you prize, as the very foundation of eternal 
life, are assailed by others, when the cause which you 
admire and support is held up to scorn and ridicule, 
and when all manner of unfairness is made use of to 
damage truth and prop up error. It is in such circum 
stances that the spirit of love needs to be specially 
looked after. One needs to take great heed lest one 
give way to that impatience of opposition which is 
common more or less to all, and which, in some 
temperaments, rises to the height of a fever. Such 
impatience is but a carnal feeling, and can never be 


sanctified by any connexion with religion. It is not 
zeal for truth, but impatience of opposition that com 
monly tempts theologians to aim those hard hits, which 
no doubt enliven controversy, but make it extremely 
dangerous. Looking back along the history of the Ke- 
formed Church of Scotland, as well as of other Churches, 
there is much cause to regret the tremendous bitterness 
that has characterized our periods of religious contro 
versy. This fact, which can hardly be questioned, 
shows the tendency of the earnest religious mind to 
fall under carnal influences, and to forget that in Chris 
tianity the greatest of all the graces is Charity. 

The want of affectionateness, thus apt to show itself 
in the arena of dispute, exerts its influence on the 
pulpit too. Scottish Christianity has not hitherto been 
of a particularly loving type. We often comfort our 
selves by saying that it is of a sturdy type, and that if 
English or Continental Christianity be more loving, ours 
is more powerfully and consistently logical. But why 
might we not have all our stnrdiness, and love along 
with it? Why might not that type of character be 
realized among us that was found in those apostles who 
were at once sons of consolation and sons of thunder ? 
Such a combination would give to Scottish Christianity 
an almost unlimited power. It would make its power 
to win equal to its power to awe, and correct the im 
putation so often cast upon our Calvinistic doctrine 
of God, that it represents him as a God to be feared 
but not a God to be loved. 

4. Still kindred to the qualities of efficient preach 
ing that have been illustrated is & fourth the spirit of 

This is St. Paul s spirit " all things to all men " 
(1 Cor. ix. 22) ; trying to understand men s feelings, as 


the springs of their actions ; considering from what 
causes their temptations arise, and dealing with them 
accordingly ; thinking how we should feel and act 
under similar circumstances and influences ; adapting 
our instructions to their circumstances and even pre 
judices, as far as we can do so honestly ; coming 
down, as our blessed Lord did, to their level, in order 
that we may carry them upwards to his. 

Such a spirit is especially incumbent when we are 
addressing persons whose mode of life or habits of 
thought are quite different from our own. Let it be 
supposed that we, being strangers to all shade of doubt, 
are dealing with persons of speculative habit of mind, 
with a morbid distrust of traditional judgments, and a 
strong determination to prove all things ; persons who 
halt at every step, and question positions on which we 
feel that our very salvation rests. Obviously such a 
case, instead of being scornfully denounced, as it often 
is, demands a very unusual degree of consideration 
and forbearance. Or suppose that we, leading a 
leisurely life, aided by all the appliances of civili 
sation, going to church and meeting at the regular 
hours without effort or difficulty, have a number of 
hearers struggling for very life under the heaviest 
burdens, toiling without rest from morn to dewy eve, 
and depressed by sorrows and anxieties that gnaw 
them like a grinding toothache by day and by night, 
it were out of the question to address them as if they 
were in comfortable circumstances like ourselves. 

This spirit of sympathy, we may remark, lies at 
the foundation of all successful district working. The 
way to get on among the poor, especially such as 
are broken down morally and spiritually, is to feel 
towards them as persons having the same nature 


with ourselves, not a whit worse than we might have 
been had we been reared in the same circumstances, 
and exposed to the same influences. The power of 
sympathy in such a case is magical. Do we our 
selves not feel, when we have become liable to blame, 
that what we chiefly desire on the part of others is 
consideration of the circumstances under which we 
stumbled ? The preacher that gives a lame sermon 
occasionally would fain have his audience to know 
something of the unexpected interruptions, the headache, 
the weariness and the worries without number, under 
the influence of which it was composed. The gentle 
man who unhappily loses his temper, in the presence 
of his friend, when speaking to his clerk or to his 
servant, takes much pains to explain the hidden pro 
vocations that made him so fierce. None of us like 
ruthless and indiscriminate censure. If in visiting 
among the poor we find many things out of sorts, and 
would desire to remedy them, we must be considerate. 
Simply to taunt and scold will only make things 
worse. Even to treat them as persons who are al 
together wrong and guilty, but whose errors and faults 
we are good enough to try to rectify, will probably 
drive them to be sullen, will make them hide from 
us, and creep within their shell. We must treat 
them as brothers and sisters, who have a fallen nature 
certainly, needing to be regenerated by the grace of 
God, but after all, a nature not essentially different 
from our own. So also in laying out for them a path 
for the future, we must take into consideration their 
ways and habits of life, the obstacles to their Chris 
tian progress, and the actual path along which they 
have to go. 

If this spirit of sympathy is essential to success in 


the rounds of pastoral or missionary labour, it is hardly 
less so in the pulpit. The most persuasive preacher, 
other things being equal, is the preacher who has the 
most correct apprehension of the circumstances of his 
hearers, and the largest consideration for them. Let 
it not be said that this spirit leads to a good-natured 
apology for all vice and all error. On the contrary, 
it is when true sympathy is in operation that you 
are most free to denounce sin and condemn error, 
to deliver God s testimony against them most uncom 
promisingly. Consideration is not indulgence, it is the 
very opposite. You tell the people that you know 
what has tempted them into sin, but you warn them 
to think what sin is how fiercely, how horribly God 
hates it, how it robs him of all his due, how it 
poisons and ruins their w 7 hole nature, and yet what 
a frightful hold it has got of them. If only we have, 
in union with sympathy, such zeal and intensity as 
that of men like St. Paul or Chalmers, we shall not be 
liable to apologize for sin. Chalmers presented a mar 
vellous instance of the union of sympathy and en 
thusiasm, great breadth and great force, ample consider 
ation for the circumstances of different classes, and yet 
extraordinary power of urging them upwards. But 
the most memorable of all instances of the union of 
sympathy and intensity is in the case of our Lord. 
He who shielded the miserable adulterer from the 
harsh violence of her accusers ; he who looked with 
such love on the young man who, though he failed, 
was not far from the kingdom of God ; he who burst 
into tears at the grave of Lazarus, when he saw the 
distress of Mary; he who prayed on the cross 
" Father, forgive them, for they know not what they 
do/ became to us all a wonderful example of sympathy. 


Need we speak of his loyalty to truth and duty ? or 
of the impulse he gave in the direction of what is 
pure and noble, and in opposition to all falsehood and 
wrong ? 

But while cultivating sympathy with man, we must 
never forget the necessity of a predominant sympathy 
or fellow-feeling with God. If, on the one hand, we 
would avoid the hardness of tone that looks at 
truth and duty only in the abstract, and enforces their 
claims by sheer pressure on soul and conscience; on the 
other hand, we must beware of treating men as if they 
were simply unfortunate, the victims of unfavourable 
circumstances. We need to keep in the forefront of our 
teaching the fact that sin dishonours God, and would 
fain dethrone Him. God has claims on us as Creator, 
Jesus Christ has claims as Kedeemer, the Holy Ghost 
has claims as Teacher and Sanctifier. To enforce these 
claims is not a secondary but a primary part of our 
duty. Due weight and due order must be given to 
every part of the angel s proclamation : First, glory to 
God in the highest; then peace on earth, good- will 
toward men. 

There is a something yet to be mentioned as a 
quality of effective preaching ; not so much however 
a separate quality, as an atmosphere or aroma gendered 
by the presence of the rest. It is the indescribable 
thing that is called unction, what all understand, 
but what no one can define. It is indeed amusing 
to observe how variously unction has been attempted 
to be defined. According to one, it is the joint pro 
duct of the Holy Spirit s influence on the heart of the 
speaker, and of His sanctified efforts on the hearts of the 
hearers. According to Blair, it is the union of gravity 


and warmth ; or more fully, that affecting, penetrating, 
interesting manner, flowing from a strong sensibility of 
heart in the preacher to the importance of those truths 
which he delivers, and an earnest desire that they may 
make a due impression on the hearts of his hearers. 
To Vinet, unction appears to be the total characteristic 
of the Gospel, recognisable, doubtless, in each of its 
parts, but especially observable in it as a whole ; it is 
the general savour of Christianity; it is a gravity 
accompanied with tenderness, a severity tempered with 
mildness, a majesty united with intimacy; it is the 
true temper of the Christian dispensation, in which, 
according the Psalmist, " mercy and truth are met to 
gether, righteousness and peace have kissed each other." 
Dutoit-Membrini, as quoted by Vinet, represents it as 
" a gentle warmth which makes itself felt in the powers 
of the soul. It produces in the spiritual world the 
same effects as the sun in the physical. It enlightens 
and it warms. It gives light to the soul, and warmth 
to the heart. It makes us know and love, it interests. 
... Its only source is the spirit of regeneration and of 
grace. It is a gift which is spent and lost, unless we 
renew this sacred fire which must always be kept burn 
ing ; and that which preserves it is the cross within the 
soul, self-denial, prayer and penitence. . . . Unction is 
felt, is known by experience ; it cannot be analysed. 
It produces its impression secretly, and without the aid 
of reflection." 

Our purpose in quoting so many definitions where 
nothing is defined is simply to bring out the fact that 
in preaching of the true order there are qualities which 
have no separate genesis, but are the results of the 
purer forms of Christian feeling and experience. What 
Opie said to the coxcomb that asked him with what he 


mixed his colours " With brains, sir/ might suggest 
the answer to any one who should ask a recipe for 
unction. " There are no artificial means," says Vinet, 
" of acquiring it ; oil flows of itself from the olive ; the 
most violent pressure cannot produce a drop from the 
earth or the flint." Unctuousness you may produce 
by something like the apothecary s art; but genuine 
unction defies your chemistry. The artificial product 
differs from the genuine as the scents extracted from 
coal-tar differ from the fragrance of myrrh and aloes 
and cassia. True unction belongs only to true grace, 
and to humble gracious feeling ; it refuses to associate 
itself with the coarse arts of the pretender. 



PREPARATION for preaching is of two kinds ; the 
habitual training of all the faculties to be engaged, so 
as to bring them up to the highest state of fitness and 
efficiency ; and the study of particular passages or sub 
jects, with a view to the delivery of discourses upon 

It is with the former of these that we are to be 
occupied in this chapter. To young and inexperienced 
preachers it is hardly possible to convey a deep enough 
sense of the importance of this species of preparation. 
Usually it is by experience that a sense of the difficulty 
of good preaching comes. A sermon that seemed 
splendid to a young man when he made it at twenty- 
five, will quite possibly appear pitiful when he looks 
over it at fifty. " If I were sure of living ten years," 
an able preacher once remarked, " I should spend nine 
of them in preparing to preach during the tenth." 
Experience shows us how much is lost in our ordinary 
preaching ; how few hearers we move even feebly, how 
many we fail to move at all ; what need therefore there 
is for asking more strength from above, and taking 
more pains to be plain, pointed, interesting, and im 
pressive ; so that we would fain begin our ministry 
anew, resolved to take far greater pains to sharpen our 



weapon and use it to good purpose. " Preaching," said 
the distinguished Jansenist, St. Cyran, "is a mystery 
not less terrible than that of the Eucharist. By preach 
ing, souls are begotten and raised to life for God ; in 
the Eucharist, they are only nourished, or rather healed. 
In order to render ourselves worthy of this office, we 
must labour to obtain a great mastery over self, and 
after we have brought the heart to desire nothing in 
this world, we must bring the tongue to silence 
which is, as I understand it, the last perfection attained 
by the man who labours to attain unto virtue. Only 
thus can we become worthy of presenting the word of 
God before the world, and of publishing its truths, 
without thinking in the least of ourselves or others, as 
we are required to do in prayer, from which exhortation 
and preaching can never be separated, if they are per 
formed according to the will of God. . . . For my part, 
I would rather say a hundred masses than preach once. 
The altar is a place of solitude, but the pulpit in which 
we preach is the place of an assembled public, where 
we should be more apprehensive of offending God than 
in any other place, ... if we do not enter it after 
having laboured diligently to mortify our own spirit, 
as well as to mortify that itching curiosity to learn 
many and fine things which all men have, and which 
is the greatest temptation which remains to us from 
Adam s transgression." 

The question has sometimes been asked whether it is 
wise for a young preacher to form a high, or rather the 
highest, ideal of a good sermon. On the one side it is 
said that by this means he is sure to be stimulated to 
great exertion, and perhaps to considerable success ; 
while on the other side it is affirmed that he is liable 
to be discouraged, in consequence of his inability to 


come near the model which he has placed before his 

There can be little doubt that there are some in 
whose case the latter result does take place ; chiefly, 
however, over- sensitive and self-conscious persons, who 
are easily thrown down; or persons wanting in that 
energy and perseverance which, in more vigorous 
natures, secures a wonderful succession of efforts, and 
at last is crowned with success. But in the great 
majority of cases it is impossible to doubt that a high 
ideal is of the greatest benefit. If a man has aught of 
the soul of an artist, it is not the commonplace works 
of art that are most likely to inspire and stimulate him. 
but the master-pieces of genius, even though for a long 
time the attempt to imitate them may be a miserable 
failure. There is an anecdote of a celebrated painter, 
that he never had a thought of art till one day he saw 
a master-piece of one of the Caraccis carried past him 
in the street, when in a moment the artist s soul 
awoke in him, and made him exclaim, " I too am a 
painter !" 

Undoubtedly then, for the most part, it is highly 
desirable that the young preacher should habitually 
place before his mind a very high idea of what a 
sermon ought to be. As far as opportunity serves, let 
him listen to the ablest preachers, and let him select 
for reading and study the productions of some of the 
great masters of the art, of whom, as we have seen, both 
ancient and modern times furnish so large a number. 
It is probably the circumstance of a low standard being 
often kept in view that accounts for much inferior 
preaching. Preachers are apt to fall into the notion 
that it is enough to produce what will decently serve the 
turn, instead of cherishing the deep conviction that on 


every occasion they ought to do their very lest. The 
remark has been made, even in regard to secular 
matters, that no great success attends the labours of 
those who, instead of aiming at the best, are content 
to do things merely in a passable way. The late Sir 
Eobert Peel used to remark, in explanation of the back 
wardness of one part of the United Kingdom, which 
shall be nameless, that the people, instead of aiming at 
what was best and most excellent, were content to have 
things either " good enough," or " well enough," or " in 
time enough." The constant endeavour to find out the 
very best way of doing things, and the doing of them 
accordingly, is what has given to the greater part of 
our countrymen so high a position in industry, in 
engineering, and in the arts and manufactures gener 
ally. Whatever their hand found to do, they have 
done it with their might. 

If, then, in common secular matters, it has been 
customary for men of the highest stamp to aim at the 
greatest excellence of which they are capable, how much 
more incumbent is it on those who have had committed 
to them the interests of immortal souls, to fling from 
them the indolence that is content with decent medio 
crity, and strive, God helping them, to do their work 
in the best possible way ! Much will be attained if 
the mental habit be formed in the young preacher of 
frequently interrupting himself, in the course of his 
preparation, with the question, "Is this the best that, 
with God s grace, I can do?" It matters little if, as 
the result, many first attempts should be consigned to 
the flames, and he should still find himself, after hours of 
effort, apparently, but not really, at the beginning of his 

But let us come more to particulars, glancing first at 


the intellectual, next the spiritual, and lastly the physi 
cal preparation. 

I. And first, preparation for preaching implies a 
thoroughly disciplined state of the intellectual powers. 
It implies that the young preacher has been trained, 
and has trained himself, to bend his powers to the in 
vestigation and exposition of truth, has acquired the 
mental habits favourable to that exercise, and a measure 
of freedom and familiarity in the pursuit. It implies, 
that while engaged in mental labour, he is not at the 
mercy of every impulse or freak of fancy that may rise 
within him ; not tempted, like a child at play, to run 
after every butterfly that may flit across his path, but 
able to keep his attention bent on the proper object 
before him, and to regulate his habits accordingly. It 
implies further, that his mental powers have acquired 
some measure of robustness and skill in the investigation 
and exposition of truth ; that he has attained a measure 
of self-reliance, in the proper sense of that term, and is 
not at the mercy of any strong-minded or strong-willed 
person, who, however confidently, may come pressing 
contrary views upon him. The degree or amount of 
this intellectual preparation which a student brings to 
the work of preaching, must obviously depend on the 
diligence and perseverance with which he has pro 
secuted the various branches of a literary and theo 
logical education. That is to say, provided his mode 
of learning has not been a mere system of cramming 
provided he has not been trained simply to swallow the 
views of others, but has been in the true sense educa 
ted drawn out, made to exercise his own powers. Of 
course, it will not be thought by any intelligent young 
man that this process of mental discipline terminates 
when technically his studies come to a close. It is 


indeed a life-long process. But he who enters on the 
ministry with a fair measure of self-discipline, and com 
mand of his mental powers and habits, will find the 
benefit all through life. The struggles which it cost 
him at first to subdue himself will have their reward. 
He will find, as years roll on, that with comparatively 
little effort his powers can be brought to bear on his 
work, and can achieve results quite wonderful in the 
eyes of those who do not consider the long preparatory 
process that has been silently but steadily gone through. 
It is said that Sir Joshua Reynolds was once asked how 
he could charge a hundred and fifty guineas for some 
picture when it had taken him but three days to paint 
it. " Three days !" said the indignant painter ; " it has 
taken me five- and- thirty years." The capacity to paint 
it in three days represented a course of discipline ex 
tending over his whole professional life. A well-dis 
ciplined preacher, in like manner, after years of exercise, 
may be able to prepare a discourse in comparatively 
little time, showing a marvellous combination of facul 
ties, and marvellous perfection of each. He may even 
be able to preach extempore, and thoughtless men may 
ask, What is the use of young men spending hours on 
the preparation of discourses, when this preacher does 
so much better by an extempore effort ? But in truth 
that extempore effort may be the result of a lifetime of 
discipline. The self-possession, the power of orderly 
thinking and expression, the lines of thought that have 
been opened, the stores of illustration that have been 
made available, represent the discipline and the industry 
of a lifetime. There may be a few cases in which 
genius springs, almost at a bound, to these heights, but 
in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they are reached 
only by the slow process of elaborate self- discipline. 


There is no little consolation in this view for able 
ministers when they happen to occupy small and ob 
scure positions. For the most part it is the tempter s 
voice that tells them, that in these humble spheres they 
are wasting their energies. Wasting them they cer 
tainly are, if they are tempted to think that they may 
take their ease, allow their minds to run wild, as it 
were, and content themselves with the most careless 
performance of duty. But they are doing the very 
opposite of wasting them, if they are binding on their 
consciences the obligation to do their very best ; if, in 
that humble sphere, they are resolutely strangling every 
temptation to indolence arid self-indulgence, and are 
resolved to hear no voice but that of him who has given 
them their talents, saying, " Occupy till I come." It is 
this, and not an impatient contempt of an insignificant 
sphere, that forms the true road to promotion. But 
even should their conscientious endeavours pass with 
out acknowledgment and without reward in this life, 
they must not suppose that they have laboured in vain. 
The training acquired in this life, we may be sure, is 
not lost in the life to come ; and even though the 
Master s voice of encouragement should not be heard 
till the day of judgment, it will not be too late to hear 
the glorious announcement, " Well done, good and 
faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful in a few things ; 
I will make thee ruler over many things ; enter thou 
into the joy of thy Lord." 

In passing from the subject of intellectual discipline, 
to advert to the intellectual stores that ought to be laid 
in as a preparation for efficient preaching, we should 
have, first of all, to speak of the whole course of study 
carried on in our Divinity Halls. Obviously it is un 
necessary to say much of this now, but on one branch 


a few words must be said, namely, Biblical study. 
The systematic study of the Holy Scriptures manifestly 
holds the first rank in the category of preparation for 

It may be doubted whether any man, not even ex 
cepting the celebrated preachers in the Church of Eome, 
ever became great in the pulpit without drinking in 
copiously of the Word of God. W T hat Lamartine has said 
of the famous Bishop of Meaux illustrates in one aspect 
the value of Biblical study to preachers, though there 
are higher aspects of the subject to which the poet does 
not advert : " The Bible, and, above all, the poetical 
portions of Holy Writ, struck as if with lightning, and 
dazzled the eyes of the child: he fancied he saw 
the living fire of Sinai, and heard the voice of omni 
potence re-echoed by the rocks of Horeb. His God was 
Jehovah ; his lawgiver, Moses ; his high -priest, Aaron ; 
his poet, Isaiah ; his country, Judea. The vivacity of 
his imagination, the poetical bent of his genius, the 
analogy of his disposition to that of the Orientals, the 
fervid nature of the people and ages described, the sub 
limity of the language, the everlasting novelty of the 
history, the grandeur of the laws, the piercing eloquence 
of the hymns, and finally, the ancient, consecrated, and 
traditionally reverential character of the Book trans 
formed Bossuet at once into a biblical enthusiast. The 
metal was malleable; the impression was received, 
and remained indelibly stamped. This child became a 
prophet : such he was born, such he was as he grew to 
manhood, lived and died : the Bible transfused into a 
man! 1 

The study of Scripture proper to a theological student 
or to a preacher may be said to be threefold critical, 

1 See Potter s Sacred Eloquence, p. 51. 


personal, homiletical. His critical study is directed to 
the ascertaining of its true meaning ; his personal study 
to the edification of his own soul ; his homiletical study 
to the instruction and edification of his people. It were 
a happy state of mind if he could at one and the same 
time study the Scriptures critically, practically, and 
homiletically. And no doubt it is an attainable state 
of things. A man like John Albert Bengel in his 
mature years could not have separated the three. But 
in most cases, it seems desirable that the student should 
begin with separate readings, at least for personal or 
devotional purposes. 

(1.) No student of divinity ought to want his sacred 
season of daily personal fellowship with God, or to 
stand in need of being urged to the solemn perusal of 
the Scriptures during that season, in order that he may 
hear God s message to his own soul. The very life of 
the soul depends on this and kindred exercises ; they 
supply the oil that keeps the lamp burning ; they are 
parts of the breathing process that give oxygen to 
the blood. 1 The Eomish priest is bound to read daily 
a considerable portion of his breviary ; but it is other 
wise in the Protestant church, and there is a risk, since 
no such formal rule is prescribed, and the matter is 
left to conscience alone, that the devout reading of the 
Bible for personal edification may either be omitted, or 
carelessly performed. 

(2.) As little ought it to be necessary to stimulate 
students of divinity to a full critical and exegetical 

1 " An hour of solitude, as has been well remarked, passed in sin 
cere and earnest prayer, or the conflict with, and struggle over, a 
single passion, or subtle bosom sin, will teach us more of thought, 
will more effectually awaken the faculty and form the habit of re 
flection, than a year s study in the schools without them." See 
iShedd, p. 132, 


acquaintance with Scripture. To be able to grasp the 
great purposes of divine revelation as a whole to see 
at the same time the drift and bearing of its several 
parts, to apprehend the great lessons of the various 
histories, biographies, and epistles, the parables, the 
sermons, the doctrinal statements, the allegories, the 
lyrical effusions, that make up holy Scripture ; to know 
where to find the most striking statements on any sub 
ject which Scripture embraces, to make one part throw 
light on another, and bring out the chief lessons of the 
whole, are attainments of inestimable value to the future 
preacher of the Word. 

(3.) But beyond this, though not much beyond it, 
there is a homiletical object to be kept in view in the 
study of Scripture. The mind of the student ought to 
acquire a homiletical habit, and to get into the way 
of thinking, as he goes along, what use for preaching 
purposes can be made of this and of that part of Scrip 
ture ; while a record will be kept of what strikes him 
as available, and of the line of thought which it has 
opened up to him. No farmer can be acting wisely who 
does not look well to his seed-corn, and make sure of 
enough to sow all the acres that are to be under crop 
the following season ; and no preacher can be acting 
wisely who does not take care to provide himself with 
a sufficiency of germs or homiletical seed-corn for 
future use. This homiletical habit, while connecting 
itself mainly with the reading of the Scriptures, will 
operate also upon any other material that may be made 
available for the purpose. We are told of a Grecian 
general who, when he travelled and viewed the country 
around him, revolved in his mind how an army could 
be there drawn up to greatest advantage ; how he could 
best defend himself if attacked from such a quarter ; 


how advance with greatest security, how retreat with 
least danger. " Something similar to this (says Dr. 
Shedd) should be the practice and study of a public 
speaker. It is as fitting that the preacher should be 
characterized by a homiletical tendency, as that the 
poet should be characterized by a poetical tendency. 
If it is proper that the poet should transmute every 
thing that he touches into poetry, it is proper that 
the preacher should transmute everything he touches 
into sermons. This homiletic habit will appear in a 
disposition to skeletonize, to construct plans, to examine 
and criticise discourses with respect to their logical 
structure. The preacher s mind becomes habitually 
organific. It is inclined to build. Whenever leading 
thoughts are brought into the mind, they are straight 
way arranged and disposed into the unity of a plan, 
instead of being allowed to lie here and there, like 
scattered boulders on a field of drift. This homiletic 
habit will appear again in a disposition to render all 
the argumentative and illustrative materials which pour 
in upon the educated man from the various fields of 
science, literature, and art, subservient to the purposes 
of preaching. The sermonizer is, or should be, a stu 
dent, and an industrious one, a reader, and a thoughtful 
one. He will, consequently, in the course of his studies, 
meet with a great variety of information which may 
be advantageously employed in sermonizing, either as 
proof or illustration, provided he possesses the proper 
power to elaborate it and work it up/ 1 

The variety and richness of the stores that may be 
rendered thus available are very great, provided you 
have the eye that detects them, and the hand that dili 
gently lays them up in storehouses, in the shape of 

1 Shedd s Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, pp. 108, 109. 


note-books or literary indexes. Mr. Spurgeon once re 
marked that lie would think little of the man who, 
from a daily newspaper, could not find material in large 
quantity that would be of service in the construction 
or illustration of a sermon. Not that the sermon should 
be constructed after the fashion of the preacher who 
collected from the newspapers, and gave in full detail, 
all the instances of fatal accidents and sudden deaths 
which the week supplied, and concluded by calling on 
his people to take a warning on the uncertainty of life. 
This was the process of accumulation without an effort 
at organization. But passing facts are often of great 
value to a preacher, if wisely used. Any one may 
notice how the drooping attention of a congregation is 
often caught up by a reference to a fact of the day. 
The preacher had been losing himself in the cloud-land 
of abstractions, but when he came down to the sphere 
of actual fact, his hearers, almost without exception, 
rallied round him. It was like blowing a trumpet to 
collect scattered troops. To a certain extent, this ex 
plains the influence of anecdotes. Be they good, bad, 
or indifferent, they seldom fail to command attention. 
They contain facts, to begin with, facts of a somewhat 
dramatic character, and stimulating the curiosity of the 
hearers, who are generally eager to know the use to be 
made of them. Mr. Jay of Bath, when he came to 
Scotland, was warned that it would be perilous to his 
reputation to introduce anecdotes in his sermons, as 
something quite out of keeping with the solid taste of 
the people. Notwithstanding the warning, he found 
that he could use them even in Scotland with advantage. 


Like other things they are good if a man use them law 
fully ; if he introduce them as occasional seasoning, not 
the chief nourishment of the discourse. But in the way 


of illustrations, one s daily reading and one s daily obser 
vation are fitted to yield a constant supply of useful 
material. The preacher that reads be it travels, his 
tory, biography, philosophy, speeches in parliament, 
poetry, fiction, reviews, or ballads with an eye all the 
time to the pulpit, will be gathering a store of illustra 
tions which he will never be likely to meet with, if he 
merely begins to search for them when he needs them. 
" Go to the ant " may be addressed to the preacher in 
more senses than one ; be always storing, so that on an 
emergency you have only to step into the storehouse 
and take out what you may desire. But be the store 
to be used what it may, it is indispensable that it be 
passed through the mill of the preacher s own mind, so 
as to come out with his own image and superscription. 
A sermon ought not to be a piece of conglomerate, nor 
a coat of many colours, but an organized structure with 
a pervading unity. 

II. The next branch of habitual preparation for effec 
tive preaching is what we have called the spiritual. If 
preaching be a thing of the heart as much as of the 
head, the heart as well as the head must be brought 
into a state of preparation. And this can only be 
achieved through the maintenance of high spirituality 
of mind. That is to say, by keeping the soul much in 
contact with unseen and eternal realities, and by having 
one s impressions of these renewed and intensified from 
time to time. In the history of certain preachers it 
may be remarked that at certain times their ministry 
has been marked by a manifest increase of divine 
power. Such times have been seasons of remarkable 
visitation, of deep personal affliction, of overwhelming 
public calamity, or of powerful spiritual awakening. 
It is said of M Cheyne that one Saturday afternoon 


being met by a brother on his way to visit a dying per 
son, and asked how he could spare such a time for that 
purpose, his answer was, " I always like before preach 
ing to look over the brink." And the more a preacher s 
mind is filled with the views of life which the death 
bed gives, and the tremendous significance which the 
doctrine of the cross thus derives, the more power 
fully and impressively will he be likely to preach. To 
this qualification there is no royal road. No brilliancy of 
mental gifts, no success in study, no natural fervour can 
enable a preacher to dispense with the habit of spiritual 
contemplation, the fellowship with the unseen which is 
required to give the true tone to his sermons. Some 
preachers deem it necessary to seek what is called 
inspiration before beginning to compose sermons or to 
preach. Some have been tempted to draw on strong 
waters for the needed mental excitement ; others have 
sought the stimulus in the pages of the spasmodic 
poet or the sensational novelist. But what inspiration, 
what stimulus of the preaching faculty can equal that 
which cornes from a vivid view of the great truths of 
Kevelation ? If only, by God s great mercy, we could 
attain just impressions of the state of man, the love of 
God, the grace of the Saviour, the malignant energy of 
the devil, the doom of sin, the fearful conflict raging 
around us between the prince of this world and the 
Lord of Heaven, and the awful issue of the strife in 
which we are engaged, should we not have the right 
kind of inspiration ? If we could only realize vividly 
the actual life of some one to whom we may be called 
to preach : the blinding power of lust by which he is 
wont to be assailed, the frightful craving he experi 
ences, the loathsome ruin of which he is on the brink, 
the troubled life, the dark death-bed, the horrible resur- 


rection, the eternity of despair ; on the other hand, the 
glorious results of a saving change, of a vision of the 
Saviour to his soul, and new life in him ; if, moreover, 
we could see the difference of the effect or impression 
on others in the two cases, in the one, the corrupted 
heart a propaganda of pollution, misery and death ; in 
the other, the regenerate heart a fountain of strength, 
joy and beauty, on every side ; in the one case, the 
Saviour weeping as he wept over Jerusalem, in the 
other, the Saviour seeing of the travail of his soul and 
being satisfied oh ! would not our hearts fill with the 
noble dignity of our office, and the prayer go up like a 
lightning- flash to heaven for divine strength to fulfil 
this glorious ministry ! 

In order to maintain this spirituality of mind, it is 
useful, among other instrumentalities, for preachers 
to include some earnest spiritual treatise in the list of 
what they habitually read. It is desirable that they 
should be in daily contact with earnest thoughts and 
feelings, and especially when preparing an address for 
the pulpit. To many of the old writers, Augustine, 
Bernard, a Kempis and others far remote, or Baxter, 
Bunyan, Leighton, or Eutherford among those more 
recent, there was granted a singular clearness of spiri 
tual vision, and a marvellous fervour in writing of what 
they knew. A kind of magnetic influence goes forth 
even from their writings, and tends to inspire in kin 
dred hearts a corresponding feeling. It must be a 
cold nature indeed that is not warmed into a higher 
fervour than usual, by the perusal of the appeal in 
which Baxter remonstrates with ministers on the habi 
tual coldness of their feelings : " Oh ! how can you 
forbear, when you are alone, to think yourselves what 
it is to be everlastingly in joy or torment ! I wonder 


that such thoughts do not break your sleep, and that 
they do not crowd into your minds when you are about 
your labour ! I wonder how you can almost do any 
thing else ! How can you have any quietness in your 
minds ? How can you eat, or drink, or rest, till you 
have got some ground of everlasting consolations ? Is 
that a man or a corpse that is not affected with matters 
of this moment, that can be readier to sleep than to 
tremble when he hears how he must stand at the bar 
of God ? Is that a man or a clod of clay that can rise 
up and lie down without being deeply affected with 
his eternal state, that can follow his earthly business and 
make nothing of the great business of salvation or dam 
nation, and that when he knows it is so hard at hand ? 
Truly, sirs, when I think of the weight of the matter, I 
wonder at the best saints on earth, that they are no 
better and do no more, in so weighty a case. I wonder 
at those whom the world accounts more holy than needs, 
and scorns for making so much ado, that they can put 
off Christ and their souls with so little ; that they do 
not pour out their souls in every prayer ; that they are 
not more taken up with God ; that their thoughts are 
not more serious in preparation for their last account. 
I wonder that they are not a thousand times more strict 
in their lives, and more laborious and unwearied for the 
crown than they are. And for myself, as I am ashamed 
of my dull and careless heart, and of my slow and un 
profitable course of life, so the Lord knows that I am 
ashamed of every sermon that I preach ; when I think 
what I am, and who sent me, and how much salvation 
and damnation of men is concerned in it, I am ready to 
tremble, lest God should judge me a slighter of His 
truth, and of the souls of men, and lest I should in my 
best sermon be guilty of their blood." 


Time will not allow us to follow out into all their 
manifestations the lines of thought which these views 
open up. If the preacher would have his heart as well as 
his head in a due state of preparation, let him sometimes 
cultivate solitude, or rather the solitude in which he has 
the company of his Master. Let him recal the ends for 
which He came into the world and gave Himself up to be 
the Eedeemer ; try to enter afresh into sympathy with 
Him in these ends; take encouragement from the fact 
that the w r ork is Christ s, and all power in heaven 
and earth is given to Him ; let him meditate on the 
abundant promises of the gift of the Holy Spirit to as 
many as w r ait for His grace ; let him ask the strength 
that is made perfect in weakness ; and let him remem 
ber that solemn day of reckoning, when all that he has 
done shall be brought to the touchstone of faithful ser 
vice, Was it done to please himself, or was it done to 
serve the Master ? 

III. It now remains to say a few words on physical 
preparation for preaching. 

The present generation is much more disposed than 
some of its predecessors to believe in a certain connec 
tion between good health and good preaching, although 
to many persons it may seem that there is no such con 
nection, while a smaller number may think that a 
preacher s delicate health actually aids the impression 
produced. And no doubt there is a certain class of 
truths which are taught more impressively by a man who 
bears the seal of death on his wasted face ; but on the 
other hand, such a man s influence in other respects is 
feeble, if not injurious. " It is impossible," says Mr. 
Beech er, "for an invalid to sustain a cheerful and 
hopeful ministry among his people. An invalid looks 
with a sad eye on human life. He may be sym- 



pathetic, but it is almost always with the shadows that 
are in the world. He will give out moaning and 
drowsy hymns. He will make prayers that are almost 
all piteous. It may not be a minister s fault if he be 
afflicted and ill, and administers his duties in mourning 
and sadness, but it is a vast misfortune for his people." l 

The sad, sombre, melancholy look of the invalid 
preacher, and indeed a heavy, dull, dreary look in any 
preacher, has a specially repulsive effect on the young. 
It insensibly leads them to associate with church services 
the very opposite of those happy feelings which they 
so readily associate with their sports. Under any cir 
cumstances, the solemnity of Divine worship constitutes 
something of a trial for the buoyant, playful tendencies 
of youth, but infinitely the more on that account is it 
matter for regret if the trial is aggravated by the re- 
pulsiveness of a countenance on which nothing bright 
and radiant ever appears to settle. 

But even where there is no positive disease, there 
may be a physical languor that reflects itself in 
feebleness of voice, dulness of tone, stiffness of manner, 
and a general want of lively and attractive power. It 
may be difficult to persuade some preachers that 
physical causes have anything to do with this, but the 
connexion is beyond all reasonable doubt. And the 
fact that such symptoms are the effect of some trans 
gression of the laws of health makes it incumbent on 
the student to attend to the condition of his outer man. 
Not as he values the temper of his friends and his 
congregation that he is to bore them by constantly 
obtruding the state of his health on their attention. 
One should be able to look after one s health quietly, 
without plaguing the world either with the process, or 

1 Lectures on Preaching, i. 189. 


the reasons for it. Sometimes, indeed, it is impossible 
for the student to care for it as he might, and as he 
would if he were driven less by the res angusta, or if 
he could content himself with a lower standard of 
qualification ; and sometimes without knowing it he 
exhausts that reserve fund of health which ought to 
be husbanded in youth, so that the spring of his con 
stitution is broken, and the seeds of early decay are 
sown. Everything points to the duty of caring for 
the health and vigour of the body, and especially of 
the three organs on which the preacher is specially de 
pendent the stomach, the nerves, and the lungs. 

Of the stomach, we say, because from any disorder 
there, spring those nameless morbid feelings which 
gender depressing views of life and duty, sour thoughts 
of one s position, and bitter onslaughts on one s rivals or 
opponents. Of the nerves, because nervous feebleness 
and nervous irritation, besides destroying one s own 
spring and motive power, bring one into ominous neigh 
bourhood with dark temptations and terrible diseases. 
Of the lungs and other organs of speech, because a 
clear metallic voice is so indispensable to efficient 
utterance, and feeble lungs cannot but be accompanied 
by a sense of difficulty, and by general feebleness. 

It is very certain that due attention to physical 
exercise is an essential condition of sustained vigorous 
preaching. The command to be " strong in the Lord " 
includes strength of body as well as strength of soul. 
A whole Saturday spent in the study, and particularly 
a whole Saturday night, is not favourable to that 
physical vigour which usually underlies good preaching. 
" The speakers that move the crowd," says Beecher, 
" men after the pattern of Whitefield, are usually men 
of very large physical development, men of very strong 


digestive powers, and whose lungs have great aerating 
capacity. They are men of great vitality and recupera 
tive force. . . . They are catapults, and men go down 
before them." Mr. Beecher has gone so far as to 
specify several points connected with food and feeding 
that require the notice of the preacher who would make 
the most of everything. To the excellence of his own 
health, the full free play of all his vital forces, he 
attributes not a little of the popularity he has en 

Some men may affect to despise these things, but 
it is a foolish affectation. Subordinate though their 
place may be, it is a real place notwithstanding ; at 
least in every case where <c the bow abides in strength, 
and the arms of the hands are made strong by the 
hands of the mighty God of Jacob" (Gen. xlix. 24). 1 

1 I am aware that some will dispute the position as to the con 
nexion of good health and good preaching. And not without some 
plausibility. Of the three classes of powers of which our nature is 
made up bodily, mental, and emotional, it has been remarked 
that the development of any one class to its utmost capacity is 
seldom effected without damage to the rest. In the prize-fighter 
and the acrobat both mind and soul are stunted. In the senior 
wrangler, the development of intellect is commonly out of all pro 
portion to that of the body and the soul. In the spiritual enthu 
siast, the intensity of the soul dwarfs mind and body. We may 
therefore find more spiritual intensity in one whose body is en 
feebled say by fastings and vigils than in another. But even 
allowing for such exceptions, the general rule in ordinary life will 
remain but little modified. 



THE subject of style, in connexion with the delivery 
of God s message, is one which some persons may think 
it were better to pass over entirely. Their fancy is 
that no good can come of instructions or rules fitted 
Jo make preachers nice as to the language in which 
they express themselves. If we should send a man 
through the town to announce that a house was on 
fire, should we lecture him on the style in which he 
was to make the announcement? If we should de 
spatch a life-boat to the rescue of a shipwrecked crew, 
should we instruct the captain how to throw a figure 
of speech or two into his invitation ? Only let preachers 
be in earnest, it is said, and they will have no diffi 
culty in finding appropriate words. Let any man, 
indeed, only have something to say, and he will be 
sure to find suitable language : 

" Cui lecta potenter erit res, 
Nee facundia deseret hunc, nee lucidus ordo." 

Or as Milton puts it, " When such a man would 
speak, his words, like so many nimble and airy servi 
tors, trip about him at command, and in well-ordered 
files, as he could wish, fall aptly into their own places." 
This remark of Milton s may be true of a man after 
some five- and -twenty years practice of the art of 


speaking and of writing too ; but there are few indeed 
who find it true at the beginning of their course, 
especially when the communication to be made is in 
the form of a sermon. Of course, when a man has 
only to shout "fire," or when a life-boatsman has only 
to invite shipwrecked sailors to jump on board, there 
is no need for instructions on style ; but it is absurd 
to represent these acts as parallel to those to which the 
preacher is called from week to week, or to speak as if 
the simple monosyllable suitable to the one were a fair 
representation of the mode of address essential to the 
other. 1 

Style has often been defined "the dress of thought;" 
but it is a mistake to suppose that language and 
thought may be separated from each other as com 
pletely as dress may be separated from the body which 
it covers ; and it is nearer the truth to say with Words 
worth, that style is the incarnation of thought. In 
point of fact, style, in common parlance, denotes the 
more conspicuous qualities, whether of thought or lan 
guage, or of both combined, by which the writing or the 
speaking of any man is distinguished. Sometimes the 
two things are placed in antithesis, as when we say of 
some one that his thoughts are good but his style is 
bad ; in which case we mean that he has taken no pains 
to set forth his leading thoughts in a suitable and 
attractive form. But more frequently the term style is 
used to denote qualities that belong more or less both to 
the thinking and the expression. If we say that one s 

1 " Let us not forget that to preach is to instruct. If we had 
only to drive the sinner to the foot of the Cross the Gospel might 
be soon unfolded. But the good news is found in many subjects. 
... To terrify is not every thing; it is not even a very small 
matter. We must touch the heart, and in order to do that we 
must instruct. There is a great number of souls that can only be 
gained to Christ at this price." Viwt. 


style is clear, that is applicable to both. If we say that 
it is forcible, or that it is figurative, or that it is diffuse, 
or that it is concise, both elements are comprehended. 
The idea of the language is probably more prominent, 
because it is more conspicuous it is palpable to the 
sense ; but the language covers the thought, and the 
thought, to a large degree, determines the language. 
Style, therefore, is not a mere affair of words. It 
combines the properties both of the cuticle and the cutis 
vera ; with an outer surface apparently detached, or 
detachable ; but a lower layer, from which the outer is 
formed, in immediate connexion with the vital forces 
of the system. 

Before proceeding to specific suggestions on pulpit 
style, it will be useful to offer a few remarks on the 
question, whether there be any fundamental difference 
between the style of conversation and the style of the 
pulpit ? And also, whether there be any essential differ 
ence between the style of the pulpit, and other modes 
of public speaking parliamentary, forensic, or general ? 
At first sight it might seem as if there were a 
fundamental difference between the style of the pulpit, 
especially in its higher flights, and the style of conver 
sation. If men were to converse as they sometimes 
preach, it would be bombastic absurdity ; if they were 
to preach as they usually speak, it would be bare, 
passionless, and tame in the extreme. But this may 
be, because their actual preaching is bombastic, and 
their actual conversation poor and tame. It is obvious 
that the conversational style has many advantages. It 
arrests attention ; it keeps the voice natural ; it obliges 
you to bear in mind your object, viz., to convince and 
persuade the person or persons addressed ; it compels 
you, by an instinctive process in your own mind, to 


adapt yourself to your audience, and to see that, as you 
advance step by step, you carry them along with you. 
These are very substantial advantages of the conversa 
tional style not to be lightly sacrificed. Is it possible 
then, on the basis of such a style, to rise to those heights 
which the public orator counts his peculiar domain 
to become impassioned, flowing, poetical? The question 
is pretty nearly equivalent to this, Could such a style of 
speech become natural and appropriate in conversa 
tion ? Can it be conceived as natural, that a friend, 
walking and talking to another friend, should get so 
raised above the ordinary level as to pour his mind out 
in sentences resembling the most eloquent periods of 
the greatest pulpit orators ? 

In theory we can discover nothing to prevent this 
supposition from being realized. But ordinarily there 
are insuperable hindrances to its being realized in 
practice. Thus, it is very seldom that any one would 
think of preparing to give expression, in conversation 
with a single person, to his fullest, richest, in tensest 
thoughts and feelings on any subject, or of so arranging 
them that they should come out in the best possible 
order, and with the greatest possible force, each sen 
tence and clause intensifying the rest. Further, the 
circumstances of an ordinary two-handed conversation, 
as we call it, prevent the rise of that excitement and en 
thusiasm which the presence of great numbers gives to 
a public speaker; they fail to supply that uplifting power 
which makes him forgetful of common things, and 
enables him to soar and to carry up his audience to a 
more ethereal region. An ordinary conversation, in a 
word, has a tying- down, or tethering effect on a speaker, 
and hence the bareness and tameness by which it is 
usually characterized. But fancy some man with a 


great conversational gift, like Coleridge, thoroughly 
interested and thoroughly roused ; the words of such a 
man will probably have as much of passion and poetry, 
of glowing warmth and flowing fulness, as the best 
periods of a sermon. May it not be, that the circum 
stances appropriate to the pulpit are designed to give to 
a speaker the benefit of that power that carries one 
upwards, and of that wider sweep and intenser feeling 
which belong to oratorical discourse ? 

This seems to be the true theory of style. The style 
for the pulpit is essentially the conversational, but it is 
the conversational with the added wings of an eagle, as it 
were, and with a capacity of uttering things, grander, 
richer and fuller, than would be practicable in actual 

This view of the matter receives strong confirmation, 
if not actual demonstration, from the range and capacity 
of feeling and expression which conversation commands 
in our great dramatical, poetical, and fictional writers. 
No one ever actually conversed as many of the characters 
of Shakespeare, Milton, or even of Sir Walter Scott 
converse. In point of fact, many of the most eloquent, 
imaginative, and impassioned passages in the English 
language occur in the form of dialogues. And yet no 
one, with common sense, accuses these brilliant authors 
of making their characters talk bombastically or un 
naturally. The explanation is what has just been 
adverted to : they take advantage of the theoretical 
capacity of the conversational style to make it express 
what, by reason of practical drawbacks and difficulties, 
it hardly ever does express, in actual life. They make 
men and women talk, not as they do talk in the work-a- 
day world, but as it would be suitable for them to talk 
under the influence of excited feelings, if they had easy 


command of the richest stores of language, and if this 
great faculty of speech were so common as not to excite 
the idea of a prodigious effort or of an affected display. 
Now it is just these conditions, so seldom realized in 
actual conversation, that preaching and other forms of 
oratorical speech admit of. And it is the fact of their 
admitting of these conditions that justifies the use of 
that full, ornamented and impassioned language, which 
in other circumstances would be so bombastic and un 

This view of the proper foundation of the pulpit 
style receives further confirmation from the fact that 
all our Lord s discourses, were framed on the conversa 
tional model. The Sermon on the Mount is conversa 
tional, and it is instructive to observe how, as he goes on, 
he seems to get nearer to the people how the plural 
ye "Ye are the salt of the earth" passes into the 
singular tJwu "If thy right hand offend thee, cut it 
off and cast it from thee." But in not a few instances 
we see our Lord, in his discourses, rising up to what is 
more strictly the oratorical region, becoming impas 
sioned, flowing, and poetical, holding his hearers in 
breathless attention, exercising all the fascinating in 
fluence of the highest eloquence. 

If we inquire into the practice in other forms of 
public speaking, we shall find a similar state of things. 
In parliament, on the platform, or at the bar, great 
speakers start from the conversational level, securing 
thereby the attention and the sympathy of their audi 
ences, and it is only as their feelings warm, or as the 
subject unfolds itself, or as the audience inspires them, 
that they rise to the oratorical heights. So also with 
great preachers. Their opening sentences are almost 
invariably sentences that might have been spoken in 


conversation, either with a single hearer, or a party of 
half-a-dozen. Take at random any of the sermons 
of "Whitefield, or Mr. Spurgeon, or Mr. Eobertson of 
Brighton, and. you will find this remark wonderfully 
verified. In your own case it will be of inestimable 
service to fashion your preaching style on the conversa 
tional basis, understood as we have explained it. Start 
conversationally, and never for one moment forget that 
you are to preach to the people, and not merely to 
deliver a discourse before them. You are certain, by 
this means, to secure an attentive audience. You may 
or may not feel that you can spread your wings very 
wide, or carry them up to the higher realms of oratory. 
If you are not sure of yourselves in the upper regions, 
you will be content with the lower. You will feel it 
far better to establish the character of useful and 
instructive preachers than that of orators. Oratory is 
doubtless a most kingly gift ; but for that very reason, 
its counterfeit is a contemptible abortion. 

Proceeding now to the details of pulpit style, we 
shall confine our attention to what seem to be the four 
leading qualities, namely, Clearness, Force, Fulness, and 
Beauty. This may be taken also as the order of im 
portance ; plainness being undoubtedly the first requi 
site, and beauty almost as certainly coming in after 
the rest. 

1. Clearness is the quality of plain and accurate 
representation, and obviously demands clear and accu 
rate thinking. According to Cicero the first requisite 
of an orator is to know what he has to say. It would 
be flattering many speakers beyond their merits to 
suppose that they possess this requisite. The criticism 
once passed upon a preacher that " he aimed at nothing 
in particular and he hit it," might be extended to not 


a few. Vague in their thinking, they are equally vague 
in their writing. A foggy atmosphere does not admit 
of photographing, nor does a foggy mind admit of 
clearness. If an unblurred image is desired in photo 
graphy, the atmosphere must be clear ; if a lucid style 
is required in the pulpit, it must represent the thoughts 
of a lucid mind. "Beading," as Bacon has told us, 
" makes a full man, writing a correct man, and speaking 
a ready man." One of the chief uses of writing is that 
it puts a great pressure on a man to understand himself. 
Hurried extemporaneous writing has no such effect, 
and is worse than useless ; nor can a conscientious 
preacher ever write a single page without asking him 
self as he goes over it what precisely he has been trying 
to say, and whether he has succeeded in saying it with 
the greatest possible clearness. 

The object of words being to convey ideas, it is 
obvious that clearness is the most indispensable of all 
the qualities of style, just as transparency, or at least 
translucency, is the most indispensable of all the pro 
perties of glass. The first object of the public speaker 
is to find words that will most clearly express to his 
audience the ideas that he wishes to convey. Now it 
may be that the words that are absolutely most correct 
are not the words that are best adapted to this purpose. 
A botanist, e.g., wishes to describe a plant to a non- 
botanist. The scientific terms are, of course, those 
which are absolutely the most correct, but to the non- 
botanist they are an unknown tongue, they convey no 
idea whatever. Consequently the botanist must try 
to find words intelligible to his hearer, that will convey 
to his mind the most accurate notion of the plant. So 
also it is with the preacher. He, too, has to bear in 
mind that in preaching his object is not merely to 


express or record his ideas, but to convey them. If he 
were making out a scientifically-constructed record of 
truth, he would be warranted in using technical words, 
and other words, which, however, he must not use 
when his object is to convey truth to a miscellaneous 
audience. He must consider what terms his audience 
are likely to understand. He must think what illus 
trations will be likely to aid them. If he go beyond 
this mark, it must be exceptionally and cautiously, 
remembering that he runs the risk of failing in the 
first object of the public speaker, failing to convey 
anything to his hearer s mind. 

There are some forms of writing, and also of 
speaking, that are designed only for thoroughly edu 
cated audiences, and that admit, therefore, of the 
widest range of language. But preaching, in almost 
all instances, being addressed to a general audience, or 
an audience comprising many persons of limited edu 
cation, cannot claim the same latitude. Hence the 
reason for that most valuable canon of preaching to 
make use only of words in common circulation, and 
bearing clear and well- understood meanings. This is 
the true version of a rule often given, to use only words 
of Anglo-Saxon origin. Whether the words be of Saxon 
origin or not is of no consequence, provided they be in 
common use, and bear well-defined meanings. Our 
language is a compound of many dialects, and though 
the Anglo Saxon is doubtless the raciest and the most 
intelligible, it has no monopoly of these qualities. But 
that the words be in common use, and that they bear 
distinct meanings, is quite indispensable to a right pulpit 
style. Many an expression that would be quite in 
place in college essays, because it is the most correct 
expression of all, is out of place in a sermon, and the 


preacher must learn the self-denial which leads him to 
avoid it. It is hardly credible how anxiously some 
writers and preachers search for common and well- 
understood words. It is said that Archbishop Tillot- 
son was in the habit of reading his sermons to an 
illiterate old woman that lived with him, and altering 
all the phrases till he had brought them dow r n to the 
level of her capacity. Some authors will go over a 
paper again and again for no other purpose than to find 
out whether more common and intelligible words or 
phrases could be substituted for any that they have 
used. It is a mistake to suppose that a style on which 
no pains have been bestowed is necessarily a clear one. 
The probability rather is that it is quite the reverse. 

There is a style of writing characteristic of half- 
educated persons, which no man of taste and training 
can too carefully avoid. It consists in the use of grand 
words instead of plain words, in heaping gaudy tropes 
and other figures of speech on subjects that are in little 
need of illustration, in accumulating long adjectives 
and other expletives, not for the purpose of conveying 
or elucidating thought, but of making a great blaze of 
oratorical fireworks. Such writers, some one has said, 

" Mistake the language of the nation 
For long- tailed words in -osity and -ation." 

I have heard wonderful specimens of this style at the 
soirees of young men s associations. I have heard it, 
in lesser degree, in sermons by half-educated preachers, 
that have got a smattering of scholarship, and deem it 
right to parade a fact which certainly would not be dis 
covered from any evidence either of mental discipline 
or of purity of taste and manners. It is hardly possible 
to convey too strong a warning against any approach to 


this style. Words that convey no definite meaning; 
expletives introduced merely to round a sentence, but 
not to express a thought ; tawdry metaphors, heaped on 
each other with barbaric profusion ; ornamental expres 
sions that draw attention to themselves but give no 
increase of vividness to the meaning, are all to be 
given to the pruning-hook, and remorselessly cast into 
the fire. 

2. Another quality of style essential to effective 
preaching is Force. 

That style has a certain dynamical power must be 
admitted by every one who considers how much more 
impression is usually made by a truth pithily and con 
cisely put, than by the same truth expressed diffusely. 
The gnomic or proverbial form of expression derives 
much of its force from this circumstance ; if you say, 
e.g., " Fools and their money are soon parted," you send 
the truth further than if you put your meaning thus : 
"When persons of a facile disposition are in possession 
of funds, they show a tendency to disperse them rapidly." 
" The proper study of mankind is man " is more forcible 
than " Among the studies which are most suitable for 
us, the constitution of the human mind, the develop 
ment of human character, and indeed everything which 
bears on man s life and welfare, is one of the most 
important." But in respect of this quality, force, as of 
its predecessor, plainness, we remark a close connexion 
between the thinking and the speaking. Intensity of 
thought and feeling gives birth to force of expression. 
It is the man that thinks deeply an 1 feels strongly that 
expresses himself forcibly. Without deep and strong 
action of the soul, there may be an affected strength of 
expression, there maybe exaggeration and a copious use 
of superlative degrees, but there is not likely to be 


much of real force, not much of that dynamic power 
that sends truth far under the surface, and leaves it in 
full possession of the soul. 

In particular, the quality of forcible style stands con 
nected with a penetrative habit of mind, which, having 
gone itself to the heart of things, aims at communicating 
its own experience to others. Partly from mental 
indolence, or mental superficiality, and partly from the 
effects of a hurried mode of life, which leaves little 
time for acts requiring leisure, most men, and it is to 
be feared many preachers, content themselves with 
superficial views and impressions of truth. Let us take, 
for example, the truth of man s lost state by nature. 
The knowledge which many persons seem to have of 
this truth consists in what they have gathered up, here 
and there, as it were, around it, they know something 
of its terrible aspect in this direction and in that, as 
involving punishment, perpetual inward disorder, the 
loss of all that one was created for, the annihilation of 
all hope and joy. But some have penetrated far deeper 
into this truth, and gained a much more intense ex 
perience of it. They have felt separation from God. 
They have felt like shipwrecked sailors in mid-ocean 
cast on a lonely rock, with all the agencies of destruc 
tion closing on them, and none but God in heaven to 
help them. They have looked, oh ! how wistfully, on 
this side and on that, and found no helper for helper 
they cannot have but One ; and that, the displeased God, 
the angry Judge, whose gracious face they have not yet 
learned to look on. He who teaches this truth after such 
an experience, after so penetrating a knowledge of it, 
will teach it right forcibly. Taught himself by the Holy 
Spirit, his words will have the penetrative power, 
they will not play upon the surface, but go right to the 


core, and stick there. And this penetrative power may 
be exercised with a great absence of noise and fuss. 
Sometimes the calmest men have most of it. With 
little appearance of eloquence, they are enabled to find 
the surest avenues of the heart, and plant their weapon 
in its inmost citadel. 

It may be remarked, further, that a forcible style 
does not harmonize with a speculative or a very sub 
jective mode of thought. 1 It pertains to strongly 
objective truth, and associates itself with great realities. 
Eationalism, with its perpetual atmosphere of doubt and 
uncertainty, is most unfavourable to it. The message 
of God s Word, so objective, so momentous, so solemn 
in all its bearings, is admirably adapted to it. He that 
is enabled to penetrate to the heart of those stirring 
truths which form that message, can hardly fail to become 
master of a forcible mode of stating them. He that 
holds them superficially and lightly cannot be expected 
to project them forcibly. In point of fact, as has been 
well remarked by Dr. Shedd, " All the high and com 
manding eloquence of the Christian Church has sprung 
out of an intuition like that of Paul and Luther, a 
mode of conceiving and speaking of God and man, and 
their mutual relations, that resulted entirely from the 
study of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures." 2 

3. The next quality of style which we proceed to notice 
is Fulness or Amplitude. Even in written or printed 
composition, it is desirable that this quality be found in 
some measure ; but for spoken or oral discourse it is 
still more important. It is not enough that a thought 
be correctly presented to an audience ; it ought to be 
presented in such a manner that if possible all the 
audience shall have a full perception of it. And it is 

1 See Shedd, p. 75. 2 Shedd, p. 82. 



not enough that it be so presented as to command a 
certain attention from the audience ; it ought to be so 
presented that if possible it shall command due atten 
tion from all the audience. One of the greatest diffi 
culties of a public speaker is to make an enduring 
impression on the attention of his audience ; it is com 
paratively easy to gain their attention for the moment, 
it is much more difficult to get a truth to abide in the 
mind, with its full measure of impression. To secure 
such objects a measure of amplitude is indispensable. 
The speaker who has the power of amplifying has a 
great advantage in dealing with an audience, provided 
always he does not carry his faculty to the point of 
weariness, but knows when to stop. 

There is a rough analogy here between the process 
of bodily and that of mental digestion. It is remarked 
by physiologists that the stomach does not operate with 
advantage on the mere essences of food. Any one 
trying to live on Liebig s essence of meat, pure and 
simple, would be rendered helpless in an exceedingly 
short period. Horses, as Whately has remarked, can 
not be fed on oats and beans alone; straw or hay must 
be added to distend the stomach and enable it to act 
with advantage. So also with the mental stomach. 
If thought be presented in the most condensed form, 
the process of assimilating it is too exhausting. Some 
thing corresponding to the straw or hay is necessary to 
make it more easily digestible ; not, however, in the 
Apostle s sense of " wood, hay, and stubble " a meta 
phor applicable to building but not to feeding. We 
have said that this is especially needed in spoken dis 
course. When a reader is dealing with what is written 
or printed, he can go back he can read again and 
again, and this process of repetition furnishes the 


needed assistance for mental digestion. But when you 
are listening to spoken discourse, you have no such 
resource. You lie at the mercy of the speaker, and if 
he be wholly destitute of the faculty of expansion, and 
try to hurry you on unrelieved from one general truth 
to another, the fatigue of following him will be found 
excessive, and the effort to attend will speedily be 
given up. 

The greatest orators and most effective preachers 
have always bee n masters of the art of expansion. Our 
blessed Lord has set us a memorable example. It was 
not enough for him to say what we were to do if our 
right eye should offend us ; the same instruction is 
repeated totidem verbis with reference to the right 
hand. It was not enough, in rebuke of distrustful 
care, to point to the fowls of heaven ; the same lesson 
is immediately enforced by a reference to the lilies 
of the field. The woe denounced on Chorazin and 
Bethsaida is followed by the woe against Capernaum ; 
the possibility of an impression being made on Tyre 
and Sidon, as a rebuke to the people, is paralleled 
by the same thing in the case of Sodom; and the 
example of Jonah is followed by that of the Queen of 
Sheba as a reproof of the blindness that failed to recog 
nise the Son of God. The same thing may be readily 
traced in all the oratorical books of Scripture. " A 
man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a 
covert from the tempest ; as rivers of water in a dry 
place ; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land " 
(Isa. xxxii. 2). One great fundamental truth is here, 
but with a fourfold diversity of aspect and application. 
Or let us go to St. Paul s wonderful account of the 
resurrection. " There is one glory of the sun, and 
another glory of the moon, and another glory of the 


stars, for one star differeth from another star in glory. 
So also is the resurrection of the dead ; it is sown in 
corruption, it is raised in incorruption ; it is sown in 
dishonour, it is raised in glory ; it is sown in weakness, 
it is raised in power ; it is sown a natural body, it is 
raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor. xv. 41-44). 

Of modern orators, Burke, and of modern preachers, 
Chalmers, have shown most fertility in the quality of 
expansion. In the case of Chalmers the quality is so 
remarkable as to become oppressive. The door swings 
so much on its hinges that we become impatient for a 
forward motion. But the view presented of the truth 
in hand is very full and complete ; we cannot misunder 
stand it, and we can hardly forget it. The very exag 
geration of the quality in Chalmers draws attention to 
its importance, as one of the chief attributes of really 
effective discourse ; while at the same time it serves to 
warn us of the danger of the opposite extreme of 
pleonasm and verbosity. Chalmers, however, often 
atones for excessive amplitude by a happy instance of 
terseness. By means of a striking antithesis, he some 
times gathers into a single line the substance of many 
pages. The same thing may be noticed in Burke, and 
it has a most happy effect on the hearer. . 

Of the various methods of expansion we cannot 
speak at length. Besolving the general into the par 
ticulars which compose it ; putting the same truth in 
various forms (e.g., positive, negative, interrogative, in 
terrogative-negative) ; repetition with variety ; examples 
and illustrations are some of the methods that will 
most naturally present themselves. The combination 
of the various methods is obviously most desirable; 
but in this, as in most other matters, the best speakers 
will be guided rather by their instincts, quickened by 


familiarity with the best writers, than by any rules 
which can be given for their direction. 

4. Last in the roll of the more important elements of 
pulpit style we place Beauty. By assigning this place 
to it, we protest equally against those who exalt it as 
if it were of supreme importance, and those who depre 
ciate it as unworthy of a thought. Beauty, beyond all 
doubt, is a divine creation, and, though in quite different 
forms, it abounds equally in God s revelation of himself 
in the book of nature, and in the book of revelation. 
It has a conspicuous place in the earth around us, with 
all its manifold variety of form and colour, its tinted 
skies and great vault of blue ; and it has a place not 
less conspicuous in the Bible, with its Song of Solomon, 
its psalms and poems innumerable, its gorgeous visions, 
arid that wonderful music of words which even a trans 
lation does not sweep away. And it is on the basis of 
this style, in a form touched with corresponding beauty, 
that devout souls love most to hear the lessons of 
divine truth from human lips. Where this beauty is 
wholly wanting, there is no provision for that craving 
which is so attracted by the allegories of John Bunyan, 
or the poems of Milton or of Cowper. A tinge of 
beauty in style is like a streak of colour in nature, and 
without adding anything directly nutritious, gives to 
truth a relish, and to the mind a refreshment, that 
greatly increase the enjoyment of instruction. There 
are undoubtedly preachers who have no conscious relish 
for it themselves, and never take any pains to produce 
it. Let such preachers, at the least, beware of the 
weakness of disparaging in others a quality of which 
they are destitute themselves. In any case beauty of 
style is rather the finishing touch, than an essential 
part of the process of uttering thought ; but without it 


the expression of truth must be imperfect, deficient in 
one, though not the most important, of the elements 
of what the Psalmist calls " the beauty of the Lord " 
(Ps. xxvii. 4). 

The subject which we have discussed in this chapter 
is sometimes exposed to disparaging strictures. A 
preacher who bestows pains on the style of his dis 
course is supposed to aim only at decking it out, or as 
the phrase goes, " polishing his periods ;" and to occupy 
one s-self with such a task is represented as sheer 
trifling with the great truths of salvation. But in point 
of fact, there is no reason whatever why pains be 
stowed on style should be regarded as having no higher 
aim than that of polishing it on the one hand, or 
making it elaborate on the other. The true idea is 
precisely the reverse. Let pains be bestowed on the 
style in order to render it more simple and transparent, 
a more exact and faultless vehicle of truth ; to clear 
away redundancies, to strengthen what is weak and 
supply what is lacking ; to place the links of argument 
in the best possible order, and to find ways of entering 
the human heart by all the various avenues of approach 
with which God has furnished it. Certain it is that no 
small pains have been used for such ends by some of 
the highest masters of eloquence. Benjamin Franklin 
used to read the Spectator, and try to reproduce it from 
his notes, in order to acquire the style of Addison ; 
William Pitt, by his father s advice, used to translate 
aloud into English from books written in other lan 
guages, in order to find readily the right English word. 
Mr. Bright, in the days of his finest speeches, was in 
the habit of studying carefully the great classical poets 
of England, finding that they helped him to correctness 
and fulness of diction. Gibbon is said to have written 


the first chapter of the Decline and Fall three times 
before he was pleased with it. Lord Brougham re-wrote 
the peroration of his speech on the Queen s trial eigh 
teen times. Our habits have become so rapid, that 
such statements can hardly be believed by us. But 
such indications of the pains used by secular orators 
and authors to place their thoughts in the most impres 
sive form, ought not to be lost on those whose office 
deals with the great truths of salvation. 

With one other remark on this subject we must con 
clude ; let it have all the weight of a closing counsel. 
Of the style of which we have spoken, the sacred 
Scriptures furnish the best and most striking ex 
amples ; nor can there be any better means of forming 
and enriching a pulpit style than familiarity with 
their contents, and that power of apt and graceful 
quotation of their language, which not only gives 
authority to a discourse, but makes it sparkle as with 
precious stones. 



THE first business of the preacher, when commen 
cing his preparation for a specific act of preaching, is 
to select his subject and his text. From time imme 
morial, sermons, or addresses to congregations on reli 
gious truth and duty, have usually been founded upon 
passages of Scripture. Our Lord himself may be said 
to have given his seal to this practice, when, in the 
synagogue of Nazareth, he founded his address on the 
passage which he had read from the prophet Isaiah. 
On the other hand, the Sermon on the Mount had no 
single text as its subject, although texts not a few were 
made use of in the course of it. St. Paul s address at 
Athens was founded on the inscription upon the altar 
" To the unknown God/ It is not indispensable there 
fore that every address on religious topics should be 
founded on a Scripture text, especially where the divine 
authority of Scripture is not admitted. But where the 
Bible is accepted as God s revelation, there are many 
considerations in favour of the practice, and as it has 
happily obtained the sanction of use and wont, 1 it is 
very desirable that it should be continued. Thus 

1 The schoolmen in the middle ages occasionally selected a pass 
age from Aristotle in their addresses to Christian assemblies (Riddle, 
Christian Antiquities, p. 448). In a recent book called Unorthodox 
London, a Comtian religious service is described in which the text 
was from Theodore Parker. Such exceptions only show the pro 
priety of the rule. 


(1.) It is a perpetual recognition of the preacher s 
function as a preacher of the Word. It is a symbol of 
his office and of his work a token that he is there, not 
to set forth his own notions and fancies, but to declare 
God s message that, in a stricter sense than was veri 
fied by Balaam, " he cannot go beyond the word of the 
Lord to say less or more." 

(2.) The text is a perpetual reminder to the people 
of the authority of Scripture. It is a testimony that 
the Word of God, as contained in the Old and New 
Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may 
glorify and enjoy him. The Bible is appealed to as the 
one fountain of truth regarding salvation : " To the law 
and to the testimony ; if they speak not according to 
this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 
viii. 20). 

(3.) Texts are adapted to be easily remembered by 
the people. They are the memorials as well as the 
subjects of sermons. They are the anchors which pre 
vent the whole discourse from drifting away into the 
realms of forgetfulness. And while the text suggests 
the sermon, the sermon often throws light on the text. 
Many a text seems to have a new force and brightness, 
after a preacher has opened it up. It sticks to the con 
science and to the heart, and sometimes becomes the 
kindling spark of new life in the soul. It recurs again 
and again to such a hearer, amid the manifold changes 
and trials of life ; and as its light was the first gleam of 
heaven that fell upon his soul, so, peradventure, it is 
the last that gladdens and sustains him as he closes his 
sojourn, strikes his tent, and breasts the river. 

(4.) Texts are great helps to variety in preaching. 
It would be almost impossible without them to con 
struct so many religious addresses as the preacher re- 


quires to deliver. They enable him to take up the 
various classes of topics embraced in " the whole counsel 
of God." And when viewed in their connexions, they 
are not only suggestive of suitable topics, but of suit 
able modes of treatment ; they are guiding-posts to the 
preacher, guiding himself, and enabling him to guide 
others, to the full knowledge of God s will. 

It is not meant that these objects are accomplished 
in all cases by the giving out of a verse of Scripture 
before beginning a religious discourse. Unless the 
preacher is penetrated by the thought that in giving 
out his text he utters God s word, and unless his use of 
it is in entire harmony with this thought, the text will 
no more lend authority to the discourse than a cross 
over the door will give sacredness to a theatre. 

If, however, the right use of a text be adopted to 
serve the purposes now enumerated, the choice of it 
should evidently be made with care. It ought not to 
be announced, as was said of Bourdaloue, merely that 
the preacher may show his skill in getting rid of it as 
soon as possible. And when it is announced as the 
authoritative subject of discourse, the preacher ought, 
with the most scrupulous conscientiousness, to attach 
to it no other meaning than that which he believes that 
the Holy Spirit meant it to bear. Nothing can be 
more irreverent or inexcusable than the handling of 
texts after an odd or fantastic fashion. Unfortunately 
there are various ways in which this has been done. 
Some preachers have actually descended to punning 
upon their text. A New England minister, in the 
colonial period of the United States, is said to have 
once preached before an unpopular Governor (by 
courtesy styled " his Excellency ") from the passage in 
Job " Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, 


and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish 
for ever like his own dung." x Some preachers again 
stretch the principle of accommodation so as to bring 
out of a text a lesson which there is not the faintest 
reason to believe that the Holy Spirit intended it to 
convey. Thus, the nine-and-twenty knives, which 
Ezra tells us were restored by Cyrus to the Jews, have 
been taken to represent nine-and-twenty kinds of 
Providential judgments ; the old cast clouts and rotten 
rags which Jeremiah put under his arm- holes have 
been m^de to stand for the stained righteousness of the 
sinner, while Ebedmelech s words have been inter 
preted as showing that Christ s was the only true 
righteousness for him. 2 The offence in such cases has 
not been lessened by the fact that the preacher might 
have found other passages expressly affirming his doc 
trine, and might have used some of these words or 
incidents as ordinary illustrations, whereas for mere 
fantastic and sensational purposes he has given to 
words of the Holy Spirit a sense unwarranted by the 
Spirit himself. 

It is an exaggeration of this fault when words of 
Scripture have been interpreted grotesquely to support 
doctrines or applications of doctrines not in harmony 
with the Word ; as when the two pence in the parable 
of the Good Samaritan have been explained of the two 
Sacraments Baptism and the Lord s Supper. Perhaps 
the most monstrous instance of this kind ever heard of 
was when an English clergyman in the seventeenth 
century preached upon the Divine right of Episcopacy 
from the text, " Sirs, what must I do to be saved ? " 
"For Paul and Silas," said he, "are called Sirs, and 

1 Shedd, p. 171. 

2 Moore s Thoughts on Preaching, p. 104. 


Sirs being in the Greek Kvpwu, and this in strict trans 
lation meaning Lords, it is perfectly plain that at that 
time Episcopacy was not only the acknowledged govern 
ment, but that bishops were peers of the realm, and so 
ought to sit in the House of Lords." L Se non e vero e 
bene trovato. A parallel to this is said to have occurred 
when a preacher in the days of Charles n. established 
the Divine right of kings from the text, " Seek first the 
kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these 
things shall be added unto you." " For it is not said, 
Seek first the parliament of God, or the army f of God, 
or the committee of safety of God, but the kingdom of 
God." 2 Such extreme instances of " courting a grin, 
when you should win a soul," are not likely to be re 
produced in our more sober age, but they may serve to 
put you on your guard against any and every use of a 
text which is inconsistent with the great purpose for 
which texts are designed. The chief temptation in 
our time lies in the direction of unauthorized spiritual 
izing. Passages in the Old Testament are referred to 
Christ simply because they appear to fit him, and 
doctrines of the New Testament, developed only in the 
last period of the later dispensation, are ingeniously 
discovered at the very dawn of the earlier. Such a 
practice opens the door to all the vagaries of Origen or 
Swedenborg, and is inconsistent with the true purpose 
of texts honouring God s Word as the great fountain 
of authority and light, and showing that it is not his 
own fancies that the preacher dispenses, but the mes 
sage he has received from his Master. 

The choice of a text therefore on every occasion 

which admits of a choice may surely be regarded as a 

suitable matter on which to ask Divine direction by 

i Shedd, p. 107. 


prayer. For if you consider how a particular text may 
possibly become to some hearer a message of life, it be 
comes awfully important that you should take all 
possible care to choose the right one. The answer to 
the prayer which you offer may come in the form of a 
strong bright light cast upon some particular text, en 
abling you to see how it may become the germ of a 
useful discourse ; or in the form of a conviction that 
your people are for certain reasons in need of a sermon 
on some particular subject ; or in the form of provi 
dential occurrences that give a definite direction to 
your mind. It is unsafe to rely on vague impressions, 
unsupported by reasons, as answers to prayer. Those 
who trust to such impressions are prone to the tempta 
tion of mistaking strong feelings of their own hearts for 
intimations of the mind of God. 

Divine direction having thus been sought, the 
preacher is not sent out to roam at large through the 
wide fields of Scripture in search of a text. A search be 
gun in so helpless a manner would probably consume a 
large share of the time available for the composition of 
the discourse. We suppose our preacher to have accu 
mulated a store of texts texts that in the course of his 
homiletical reading have struck him as the right key 
notes for sermons, and on which perhaps he has al 
ready stored some thoughts of his own. We regard 
this habit of such importance, such immense avail for 
saving time, and facilitating work, that we must again 
take the opportunity of urging it in the strongest terms. 
" How do you obtain your texts ? " said a friend on one 
occasion to the eminent young preacher, Thomas Spencer, 
of Liverpool. He replied, " I keep a little book, in 
which I enter every text of Scripture that comes into 
my mind with power and sweetness. Were I to dream 


of a passage of Scripture, I should enter it, and when I 
sit down to compose, I look over the book, and have 
never found myself at a loss for a subject." 1 One 
caution, however, may be useful in reference to texts 
that have been stored in this manner. Very probably 
the flash that has brightened them, and made them 
suggestive to your minds of some useful train of thought, 
has fallen on them while you were meditating in the 
quiet of the evening, or while you were listening to a 
discourse, or while you were reading your English 
Bible. It may be that an examination of the original 
or an examination of the context might somewhat 
modify your view of the passage. The caution to be 
offered is, that before proceeding to construct a sermon 
on it, you make sure that your view of its import is in 
accordance with the original and with the context. 2 It 

1 Kidder s Ifomiletics, p. 83. 

2 It may be useful to give some instances of such mistakes : 
Eccles. xii. 1, " Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy 
youth." One is apt to lay great emphasis on the now of this 
verse, whereas on turning to the Hebrew Bible we find merely the 
simple copulative " and " "and remember thy Creator." 1 Tim. 
ii. 8, " I will that men pray everywhere," looks like an exhortation 
to prayer in all places, whereas on turning to the original we find 
it is TOVS avSpas, " the men," in opposition to the women ; it is the 
men who are always to offer prayer in public. Isa. i. 5, 6, 
" The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint," etc., sounds 
vaguely as a statement of universal corruption, and is often so used 
in confession ; whereas the context shows the meaning to be that 
chastisement has been so abundant as to leave no part of the body 
whole. 1 Cor. ii. 2, " For I determined not to know anything 
among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." This is often 
explained as meaning that the Apostle determined to exclude every 
other subject, and has no doubt led many conscientious men to 
narrow very much the scope of their preaching ; whereas the 
original, " ov yap enpiva TL etSeWu eV vp,lv, et /LIJ)," etc., " I did not 
resolve to know any thing among you except," etc., shows the 
meaning to be that this was the only topic that he made the sub 
ject of a fixed resolution ; other topics might come in as occasion 
served, but to introduce "Jesus Christ and him crucified" he had 
fully and formally resolved. 


is not at all unlikely that you may find yourselves mis 
taken ; and in that case, painful though the sacrifice 
must be, your duty is plain and simple ; you must 
take no advantage of an ambiguity in our translation, 
since an error of translators can never give to a state 
ment the authority of God s Spirit. 

In the selection of texts a preacher will of course be 
guided largely by regard to the species of discourse 
which he purposes to deliver. If it is to be an exposi 
tory lecture, the text will probably be of considerable 
length, and if a sermon, it will be limited to a single 
verse, or a single clause. Where the old Scottish plan 
is adopted of delivering an expository discourse in the 
forenoon, followed by a sermon at the afternoon or 
evening service, it is desirable that for the sermon the 
text should be short and emphatic. If a lecture and 
sermon have both to be delivered without interval, by 
all means let a short text be sought ; let the sermon also 
be short, and let it be constructed in the rapid, energetic 
method, so as to keep the people awake, and to present 
that variety which is as pleasing in spiritual as in 
material food. For sermons generally, a short pithy 
text is a great advantage. It falls on the people s ears 
with a sharp sound of authority ; it is easily remem 
bered, and it can readily be introduced at suitable pas 
sages of the discourse to clinch the preacher s reason 
ings or appeals. The practice, once so much thought 
of, of preaching more than one sermon on the same 
text, is now almost wholly discarded, as it is obviously 
prejudicial to freshness and variety, and preachers of 
good sense would rather leave out something that 
might be said, than incur the risk, or rather the cer 
tainty, of wearying their hearers. 

In the choice of his text, the preacher will do well 


to bear in mind the different objects which his preach 
ing must contemplate, and the varied character which 
his sermons must accordingly bear. To probe the con 
science, and thereby convince men of their sin and 
misery ; to guide the anxious to the Saviour ; to ex 
pound the great work of the Cross ; to set forth the 
whole circle of Christian doctrine ; to remove difficulties 
and objections ; to enforce the claims of holiness ; to 
elevate the standard of moral practice ; to furnish en 
couragement for serving God suited to the circum 
stances and temptations of his people ; to vindicate the 
ways of Providence ; to point out the various forms of 
Christian usefulness, and urge them to begin and per 
severe in some of them, are among the objects which 
the preacher must aim at, and all require corresponding 
texts. Some sermons must be expository, some doc 
trinal, some argumentative, some practical, some expe 
rimental, some ethical, some hortatory, some minatory, 
and texts must be equally varied. It is natural for 
preachers to preach much in some particular line to 
which their own minds have a strong affinity. Some 
are fond of rousing their hearers, and some of deli 
neating the inner life or experience of the believer, and 
some of setting forth his moral obligations ; in other 
words, the preaching of some is awakening, of others 
experimental, and of others practical. It would not be 
right to discourage preachers from going more than 
others into subjects on which they are particularly at 
home, and which they are specially qualified to handle. 
But, on the other hand, no preacher should confine him 
self to one class of subjects, and no preacher should be 
content to leave topics untouched which are essential 
to a full message, and to the full edification of a con 


More particularly, it is requisite that every preacher 
should be able to handle the fundamental doctrines of 
revelation, to set forth the glad news of the kingdom 
of God. Texts containing the substance of God s mes 
sage to the sinner, every Christian preacher ought to 
handle from time to time, although, as has already been 
said, such texts should not be the only texts which he 
does handle. " A man," says Dr. J. W. Alexander, 
" should begin early to grapple with great subjects. 
. . . The great themes are many. They are such as 
move the feelings ; the great questions which have agi 
tated the world, which agitate our own bosoms ; which 
we should like to have settled before we die ; which we 
should ask an apostle about if he were here. These are 
to general Scripture truth what great mountains are to 
geography. Some, anxious to avoid hackneyed topics, 
omit the greatest, just as if we should describe Switzer 
land and omit the Alps. Some ministers preach twenty 
years, and yet never preach on the judgment, hell, the 
crucifixion, nor on those great themes which in all ages 
affect children, and affect the common mind, such as 
the deluge, the intended sacrifice of Isaac, the death of 
Absalom, the parable of Lazarus. The Methodists con 
stantly pick out these striking themes, and herein they 
gain a just advantage over us." 1 

Having selected his text, the next thing for the 
preacher is to mature the plan of his discourse. How 
is he to treat the text in question ? What is to be his 
great aim in his sermon, and how is it to be accom 
plished ? What topics is he to introduce, and in w r hat 
order ? What illustrations, elucidations, and applica 
tions of the text is he to embrace ? How are the various 
topics to be arranged, so that not only a proper unity 

1 Thoughts on Preaching, p. 7. 


shall pervade the whole, but the effect shall be cumula 
tive, each successive part of the discourse tending more 
and more to the desired result, and the impression 
being most powerful just as the discourse is brought to 
a close ? 

Evidently it is no ordinary mental power that can 
really accomplish such an end as this. As Dr. Shedd 
remarks, " A powerful methodizing ability implies 
severe tasking of the intellect, a severe exercise of its 
faculties, whereby it acquires the power of seizing the 
main points of a subject with the certainty of an in 
stinct, and then of holding them with the strength of a 
vice and all this, too, while the feelings and the ima 
gination, the rhetorical powers of the soul, are filling 
out and clothing the structure with the vitality, and 
warmth and beauty of a living thing. This power of 
densely and quickly methodizing can be acquired only 
by diligent and persevering discipline ; and hence it 
should be kept constantly before the eye of a preacher 
as an aim, from the beginning to the end of his educa 
tional and professional career. He cannot meet the 
demands which the public will make on him as its 
religious teacher, unless he acquires something of this 
talent ; and he may be certain that, in proportion as he 
does acquire and employ it, he will be able to convey 
the greatest possible amount of instruction in the shortest 
possible space, and, what is of equal importance for the 
orator s purpose, he will be able to produce the strongest 
possible impression in the shortest possible amount of 
time." * 

In view of the importance of the independent exer 
cise of this methodizing power, some writers object very 
strongly to the use by young preachers of skeletons, 
1 HomlU tics and Pastoral Theology, pp. 57, 58. 


prepared by others, in the planning of their discourses. 
Such books as Simeon s Horce Homileticce, which con 
tains several thousand skeletons, may have been of ser 
vice to many ill-trained preachers ; but, it is contended, 
they foster a habit of unwholesome dependence, and 
promote a most artificial and ineffective species of 
preaching. No preacher, with due independence of 
mind, who aims at something higher than the vocation 
of a huckster, who remembers that one of the chief 
reasons for a standing ministry in the Christian Church 
is, that the truth may be ever poured into men s hearts 
through the living thoughts and feelings, the personal 
convictions and experiences of the preacher, will con 
descend to be indebted to the machinery of others for 
what he ought to produce himself. But notwithstand 
ing this, it does riot follow that no use whatever is to 
be made of the plans or skeletons of others. There is 
no good reason why the same sort of use should not be 
made of skeletons that may be made of treatises and 
commentaries. The thing to be deprecated is, the 
preacher adopting another man s plan, or another man s 
anything, without passing it through the alembic of his 
own mind without making it his own. The use to be 
made of commentaries and published sermons is similar. 
The German Commentaries that bear the name of Lange 
contain homiletical hints gathered from various quarters, 
which it would be simple absurdity to use wholesale, 
but some of which a preacher may find to be susceptible 
of amalgamation with his own plan and thoughts, and 
fitted to enrich and complete them. But every appear 
ance of patchwork must be avoided. A unifying cement 
must give organic oneness and symmetry to the whole, 
otherwise it will be an old garment with a new patch 
it will be new wine in old bottles. Having once looked 


at what others have said, it will probably be best for 
him to throw aside their works, and let his own mind 
reproduce in substance whatever in them has appeared 
to be of value. In this way it will be more likely to be 
woven into the texture of his own mind, and reproduced 
with his own imagfe and superscription. 

On the subject of outlines or skeletons drawn up in 
preparation for any paper, Archbishop Whately re 
marks : "As a practical rule for all cases, whether it be 
an exercise that is written for practice sake, or a com 
position on some real occasion, it is necessary that an 
outline should be first drawn out a skeleton as it is 
sometimes called of the substance of what is to be 
said. The more briefly this is done, so that it does but 
exhibit the several heads of the composition, the better ; 
because it is important that the whole of it be placed 
before the eye and the mind in a small compass, and 
be taken in, as it were, at a glance ; and it should be 
written, therefore, not in sentences, but like a table of 
contents. Such an outline should not be allowed to 
fetter the writer, if in the course of the actual composi 
tion he find any reason for deviating from his original 
plan. It should serve merely as a track to mark out a 
path for him, not as a groove to confine him. But the 
practice of drawing out such a skeleton will give a 
coherence to the composition, a due proportion of its 
several parts, and a clear and easy arrangement of 
them, such as can rarely be attained if one begins by 
completing one portion of them before beginning to 
the rest. And it will likewise be found a most useful 
exercise for a beginner to practise if possible under 
the eye of a judicious lecturer the drawing out of a 
great number of such skeletons, more than he subse 
quently fills up ; and likewise to practise the analysing 


in the same way the compositions of another, whether 
read or heard." 1 

It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance 
for a sermon of lucid order and symmetrical structure. 
This quality will often constitute one of the chief 
beauties of a discourse. Given a certain number of 
good thoughts required the effect of two different 
methods of handling them. In one case, they are 
taken up helter-skelter, the preacher loses himself, 
goes abruptly from one topic to another, cuts the 
thread he is trying to unravel, produces a discourse to 
which might be applied the famous line of Pope, as 
once altered by Dr. Chalmers in reference to a cele 
brated controversial pamphlet "a mighty maze, but 
quite without a plan." In the other case, the whole of 
the thoughts have been worked into a harmonious 
whole; bone has come to his bone and sinew to his 
sinew ; every thought and every sentence is dovetailed 
into its predecessor, with tenon-and-mortice-like pre 
cision ; a symmetrical structure, like that of the human 
body, is produced ; a structure not only more beautiful 
in itself, but bearing a much closer resemblance to 
divine structures of every kind. " Thoughts," says 
Theremin, " at first present themselves as hard, brittle, 
and separate particles ; the mind must seize them, and 
by grinding them incessantly upon each other crush 
them, until friction kindles the mass, and it resemble 
molten ore. The higher ideas, thrown as it were into 
this solution, take up the thoughts which belong to 
them, and which, now that they are fluid, obey the 
mystic power that attracts like to like, so that they 
form themselves into a firm chain." 2 "To attain the 

1 Elements of Rhetoric, pp. 16, 17. 

2 Apud Kidder, Homiletics, p. 112. 


power," says another writer, " of readily fusing ideas, 
and combining them for oratorical effect, is an object 
worthy of the earnest endeavours of the public speaker. 
For this he should determine to put forth zealous and 
continued efforts. * 

In endeavouring to make the plan of a discourse 
more simple, orderly, and concise, the preacher may 
find it an advantage to leave out much that he has 
thought of introducing. Nor need he be afraid to do 
so. A sermon is not like a philosophical treatise, in 
which a subject must be viewed in all its length and 
breadth, and in all its aspects and relations. It is a 
persuasive address, in which, depending on the help of 
God, he tries to produce a particular impression. It 
is not necessary for this purpose to say everything at 
one time. It is not necessary, as Dr. Chalmers used 
to say, to take "a whole lift of theology" in every 
discourse. He may find use afterwards for materials 
that he cannot introduce now. It is quite true that at 
the commencement of his career a preacher is always 
afraid of a deficiency of material. He hardly knows 
how to fill up the time. But it is equally true that in 
practice the time is always filled up, and, as most 
hearers will tell you, more than the time. In this 
part of the island, we seldom hear of our sermons being 
considered too short. We hear a great deal of their 
being too long. And this complaint is often well 
founded. It is important to find out when a sermon 
is too long, where the attention of hearers flags, what 
part of it might with most advantage have been abbre 
viated. And generally it will be found, in the case of 
sermons of average ability, that it is somewhere in the 
middle of the discourse that the redundancy lies. The 

Bidder, p. 112. 


introduction has excited some interest. But there was 
a somewhat barren region in the centre, and here eyes 
began to wander, and heads began even to nod. As 
the preacher warmed towards the close, the hearers 
became more attentive again. But the body of the 
discourse was too much of a dead level. The preacher 
did not advance fast enough, and people cannot bear 
their preacher to think more slowly than themselves, 
any more than in a procession they can bear the 
leaders to walk at a snail s pace before them. So, by 
a sort of tacit arrangement, they lay down for a little 
in the middle of the sermon, but got up and rallied 
round the preacher as he pushed on more nimbly at 
the end. Tediousness is surely a fault that might be 
much more avoided than it is. It may surely be 
classed among preventible evils, and prevented it 
would be if preachers had more manliness and self- 

Some years ago some experiments were made by 
certain inspectors of schools and others, with the view 
of ascertaining for how long a period young persons 
were capable of giving bright and undivided attention 
to an oral statement made to them by another. The 
results were somewhat curious, but generally it was 
found that the period was very short. Beginning with 
the age of ten or twelve, the number of minutes during 
which undivided attention could be given was ascer 
tained to be ten or twelve, and for every year of 
addition to the age of the young person, a minute had 
to be added to the length of the period till you came 
to the age of twenty- five years, and the period of 
twenty-five minutes, which was believed to be the 
maximum period practicable. We do not attach much 
value to the so-called statistics, because they take no 


account of a very important element, the degree of 
interest which the statement contained for the minds 
of the listeners, it being obvious as an axiom that 
people can listen far longer, and far more intensely, to 
what is of profound interest to them, than to matters of 
indifference. But it is well for preachers to bear in 
mind that the capacity of their hearers to give sustained 
attention is limited, and to try so to plan their discourses 
that that capacity shall not be unduly strained. Let 
the plan be simple, the arrangement natural, the style 
plain and forcible, the qualities that give interest to a 
discourse duly studied, and the length of the discourse 
suitably regulated. There are indeed preachers to whom 
any audience could listen for hours. It is said that 
when Jonathan Edwards preached on the unchange- 
ableness of Christ, on the occasion of his installation at 
Princeton, though the sermon occupied a couple of 
hours, the people were so entranced that it seemed quite 
short. But it is not safe for any man, however high 
his estimate of himself, to assume without proof, that 
he belongs to this order of preachers ; and as a general 
rule it will be better that the people should be sent 
away hungering for a little more rather than exhausted 
with too much. 

The securing and sustaining the attention of the 
audience demands, at least on the part of ordinary 
preachers, continued care from first to last. Young 
preachers can have but a faint notion of the amount of 
inattention that prevails in an ordinary congregation. 
If men were as devout and earnest as they ought to be, 
it would be otherwise ; but many persons are neither 
devout nor earnest. One class come into church with 
their minds preoccupied with the cares of this life. The 
farmer who has got his fields to sow in a few days, or 


whose cattle are about to be despatched to the fair, or 
who is on the eve of making a new offer for his farm, is 
not in the best mood for giving sustained attention to a 
serious discourse. I have been told of an eminent 
publisher that the idea of his most successful publish 
ing schemes occurred to him in church. The merchant 
hard pushed for the bill that has to be met to-morrow, 
has a serious rival to the preacher, however loud he 
may thunder from the pulpit. On the part of other 
hearers, well-disposed too, there is the tendency to dream. 
Alike in prayer, in praise, and in preaching, wandering 
thoughts are terrible foes to duty and edification. And 
it is quite wonderful how small a matter will send some 
persons off on the wings of reverie. " Your hearer," 
says an American writer, " hears you say, Some 
fastidious persons are like the old Pharisees, of whom 
our blessed Saviour said, "Ye strain at a gnat and 
swallow a camel." Yes, says he to himself, the 
boys at school used to read it, Strain at a gate, and 
swallow a saw-mill. A great set of boys ! Bill Moore 
married his cousin. Bart got drowned, poor fellow ! 
Andy Snider went to Shenandoah to be a blacksmith. 
Bob M Cowan is a poor bachelor, and he chases these 
boys all over creation before he wakes up, arrests 
his reverie, and comes back to the subject of dis 
course." 1 This is a well-disposed hearer ; many others 
are far less anxious than he. Again another class are 
continually diverted by external objects. Any one 
coming in late or going out sick is an irresistible object 
of attraction. Bare as our Presbyterian churches com 
monly are, they present the smallest possible number 
of distracting objects ; yet I have been told by a very 
candid young lady that a board, containing the number 
1 Taylor s Model Preacher, p. 3. 


in the tune-book of each tune to be sung, was far more 
attractive to her than the sermon. 

To remedy this wandering habit, some preachers resort 
to the method of scolding. It might be more effectual 
if it were addressed to themselves. It is vain to demand 
attention if we cannot command it. To secure the 
attention of our hearers, we must make ceaseless en 
deavours to give interest to our discourse. The idea of 
our audience, and of the infirmities of our audience, 
must be ever present to our minds. " Eloquence," says 
Vinet, "is the gift of feeling with others what they 
think and feel, and of adapting the words and the 
movements of one s discourse to speak the thought of 
another. Eloquence rests upon sympathy. One is never 
eloquent except on condition of writing or speaking 
under the dictation of those whom he is addressing ; it 
is our hearers who inspire us, and if this condition is 
not fulfilled, we may be profound and agreeable, but we 
shall not be eloquent. In order to be eloquent, we must 
feel the necessity of communicating our own life to 
others, and know intimately the chords which must be 
made to vibrate with them." 1 

Perhaps the result of all these suggestions may be to 
produce the impression that the due preparation of 
discourses is very difficult, and very troublesome. But 
let me ask you to revert to what was said already on 
the benefit of a high ideal. Let me also ask you to 
remember that pains and trouble at the commencement 
of an enterprise are often represented not only by high 
success, but by ease and comfort, towards the close. 
And further, let me remind you of what is of no small 
practical importance, that the pulpit at the present day 
has not by any means so unchallenged a field as it once 

1 Homiletics, p. 7. 


had, and that the army of trained preachers now engage 
in their work, with an active and able body of volunteers 
at their side. Lay-preachers and exhorters of various 
kinds have risen up, in some cases have been raised 
up, with a remarkable capacity of plain, earnest, in 
teresting address, so that some people are asking, What 
better are professional preachers, and what purpose is 
served by divinity halls, except to make them dull and 
heavy ? Such questions are not likely to be asked by 
thoughtful persons, for, with all the excellences of some 
lay-preachers, the best of them are qualified to deal 
with but a slender portion of revealed truth; their power 
lies in but one kind of address. One may most cordially 
wish them God-speed, and yet be thankful for a trained 
and regular ministry, familiar with all the aberrations 
into which good as well as bad men have been led in 
the past, able to traverse the whole field of revealed 
truth, to bring forth out of their treasury things 
new and old, and to present in due balance and pro 
portion all that bears upon the welfare of man. But 
just because the volunteers are so popular, the regular 
ministry must look well to their work. A minister 
must be more than a mere lay-preacher. He must be 
capable of presenting God s message in all its breadth 
and fulness, as well as in its pointed and burning signi 
ficance. He must be a skilled labourer, not merely a 
rough, though it may be vigorous, apprentice ; and his 
skill must be the result of much intellectual discipline, 
combined with manifold grace and spiritual wisdom a 
knowledge of man, and a knowledge of God chastened 
by the spirit of the little child, and an unfaltering 
dependence on the grace of God. 



THE different parts of a sermon correspond pretty 
nearly to the different parts of an oration, as they were 
long ago laid down by Aristotle the introduction, the 
proposition, the proof, and the conclusion. The intro 
duction, of course, prepares the way for the rest ; the 
proposition announces the topic to be handled ; the 
proof contains what it is deemed proper to say in the 
way of establishing it ; and the conclusion is designed to 
rivet it on the attention of the hearer. The opening 
sentences of a sermon correspond to the introduction ; 
then, more or less formally, the preacher announces the 
the proposition, or subject to be handled ; the divisions 
or heads, if such are needed, indicate the considera 
tions which he brings forward in support of his proposi 
tion ; and the conclusion is generally an endeavour to 
press the subject practically on the heart and conscience 
of his audience. In offering a few remarks on these 
several parts of a discourse, we do not commit ourselves 
to the position that they are all to be presented to the 
audience formally and specifically, as a logician would 
present the parts of a syllogism. On the contrary, 
they are often best treated when they are not formally 


enunciated ; formality and uniformity being among 
the things which the preacher has most need to shun. 

I. THE INTRODUCTION. It is seldom wise to plunge, 
without introduction, into the heart of a religious dis 
course. Introductions are perhaps less needed in plat 
form speeches, or in political harangues ; and in law- 
courts they can often be dispensed with altogether, 
especially if the pleader is addressing himself to a 
judge. The reason is, that the purpose of an introduc 
tion is to bring up the audience to a point of view 
suitable for considering the subject to be handled ; to 
bring the hearers into sympathy with the speaker, and 
to get them to take an interest in the subject. In the 
case of platform and political speeches, and in the case 
of pleadings from the bar, this is less needed than in 
the case of sermons, because hearers usually are more 
ready to take an interest in the former than in the latter. 
Nevertheless, even in sermons, introductions ought to 
be brief. The limits of a sermon do not admit of a 
lengthened introduction. In all circumstances, indeed, 
anything which is only of a preliminary nature, when 
spun out unduly, becomes intolerably tedious, and 
exposes one to the criticism said to have been passed 
on John Howe by a good woman, one of his hearers, 
" He took so long to lay the cloth, that I despaired of 
the dinner." 

The introduction to a sermon has been sometimes 
called the preacher s cross, being the part with which 
he has often most difficulty, and which he finds it 
hardest to do well. It will serve to lessen the difficulty 
if we notice some of the kinds of introductions used by 
preachers, and the principles on which they depend. 
These are very diversified, and what we now notice are 
rather samples, than a complete enumeration. 


1. Some begin by indicating the connexion of their 
text with the context. This is what may be called the 
exegetical method; it is the favourite method of 
scholarly minds, and the method to which students 
almost invariably resort. Canon Liddon, for example, 
hardly ever deviates from it. It is well suited for 
sermons of which instruction is the leading object, 
and almost indispensable in expository lectures ; and 
it is especially appropriate when the light thrown by 
the context on the text gives it a peculiar vividness 
and force, and thus makes it take hold of the attention 
and the interest of the hearers. Such a text, for example, 
as " Come now and let us reason together, saith the 
Lord," (Isa. i. 18) has a striking light thrown on it 
from the fact that it follows an elaborate and frightful 
delineation of wickedness, which might have been 
expected to be followed up by a denunciation of doom, 
rather than an offer of infinite mercy. So also the text, 
" Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone," etc. 
(Isa. xxviii. 16), follows a frightful representation of 
the reckless guilt of the men of Jerusalem, who were 
making a covenant with death and an agreement with 
hell. But for the most part, tracing the connexion is 
not a very effective mode of introduction in the case of 
the majority of hearers. It is only the more advanced 
members of congregations, those who are habitually 
attentive, that care much either about context or con 
nexion. For ordinary hearers something more arresting 
is necessary. In the case of sermons, it is desirable, 
too, in general, that the text be self-contained flashing 
out clearly with its own bright light, and announcing 
its lesson with that clear, definite ring which marks 
authority, and commands attention. 

2. Another form of introduction connects the topic 


of the text with some wider subject, the importance of 
which is universally admitted. It refers the species to 
the genus. It announces the general law of which the 
text furnishes an instance, exciting the interest which 
is usually connected with successful generalization. 
Thus a sermon by a distinguished living preacher on 
Paul s words to King Agrippa, " I would to God, that 
not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were 
both almost and altogether such as I am, except these 
bonds" (Acts xxvi. 29), begins by adverting to the 
power which Christianity has ever evinced of influenc 
ing all classes of society, the highest as well as the 
lowest, and notices the proof of its Divine origin 
and marvellous quality furnished in this, its all-per 
vading influence, its power to turn the world upside 
down, its influence on human laws, the tone it gives to 
literature, the features it imparts to the character even 
of its bitterest opponents, so that men who in heart 
have never bowed to Christ are constrained to glory in 
the very name of Christian. All this tends to throw 
interest on that approach to Christianity which Agrippa 
made, and which gave rise to the noble words of Paul. 
It may be remarked, however, that it is still the more 
thoughtful class of minds that are impressed by this 
mode of introduction. It is only thoughtful minds 
that appreciate the principle of generalization the 
referring of the species to the genus, the indication of 
a kinship among facts or phenomena apparently uncon 
nected. But the interest which the exhibition of this 
law does create in such minds is very remarkable ; and 
when the thing is well done, when the connexion 
established is clear and self- commending, the result is 
singularly satisfactory the preacher has laid for him 
self a solid foundation, and established a claim to the 


respectful attention and favourable consideration of his 

3. Perhaps it is the same principle the interest 
excited in resemblances among things apparently un 
like that makes an analogy a very popular and effec 
tive way of beginning a discourse. Thus John Knox, 
in a sermon on The Source and Bounds of Kingly Power, 
founded on a passage in the twenty-sixth chapter of 
Isaiah (vers. 13-21) in which the prophet seems some 
times to bow before the storm of judgment, and some 
times to resist it and lay hold of God s mercy, thus 
begins (in a sentence, however, which is too long and 
involved for an introduction), " As the skilful mariner, 
being master, having his ship tossed with a vehement 
tempest and contrary winds, is compelled oft to traverse 
[tack], lest that, either by too much resisting to the 
violence of the waves, his vessel might be overwhelmed ; 
or, by too much liberty granted, might be carried whither 
the fury of the tempest would, so that his ship should 
be driven upon the shore, and made shipwreck ; even 
so doth the prophet Isaiah in this text, which now you 
have heard read." A much simpler instance is the 
following, by Mr. Eobertson of Brighton, the text being 
(Gal. vi. 6, 7), " Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall 
he also reap," " There is a close analogy between the 
world of nature and the world of spirit. They bear the 
impress of the same hand ; and hence the principles of 
nature and its laws are the types and shadows of the 
Invisible, just as two books, though on different sub 
jects, proceeding from the same pen, manifest indica 
tions of the thought of one mind, so the worlds visible 
and invisible are the two books written by the same 
finger, and governed by the same idea." 

4. A more popular way of employing analogy in the 


introduction is to start with an anecdote, or matter of 
fact. If it be really pertinent, and not introduced 
sensationally, it is very useful ; only it makes it difficult 
to keep up the rest of the discourse at the same pitch 
of interest. Thus Dr. Arnold commences his sermon 
on the text, " The children of this world are in their 
generation wiser than the children of light," " It is a 
remarkable story, told by the poet Cowper of himself, 
that when he was a young man, and living in London, 
where his companions were not only persons of profli 
gate life, but of low and ungodly principles, they always 
had a great advantage over him when arguing upon the 
truth of Christianity, by reproaching him with the bad 
ness of his own life. In fact, it appears that his life at 
that time was quite as bad as theirs ; and they used to 
upbraid him for it, telling him that it would be well for 
him if they were right and he were wrong in their 
opinions respecting the truth of the gospel; for if it 
were true, he certainly would be condemned on his 
own showing." 

In some cases, the anecdote or matter of fact is intro 
duced sideways, as something well known, and hardly 
needing to be stated directly ; as when Thomas Adams 
begins his sermon on Faith, Hope, and Charity, thus 
" When those three goddesses, say the poets, strove 
for the golden ball, Paris adjudged it to the Queen 
of Love. Here are three celestial graces in a holy 
emulation, if I may so speak, striving for the chiefdom ; 
and our apostle gives it to Love. The greatest of these 
is Charity." So also a French orator, Fle chier, in a 
funeral sermon on Marshal Turenne, taking his text, 
however, from the Apocrypha starts in a highly ora 
torical strain by referring to the words of the Jews on 
hearing of the death of Maccabseus " Why is that 



great man dead, who saved the people of Israel ? " 
drawing a parallel between the desolation and despair 
that prompted the question of the Jews and the feelings 
of the French nation on the death of Turenne. 

5. It may happen that an introduction is furnished, 
not by indicating a hidden analogy, but a hidden differ 
ence. Instead of connecting it with something to 
which it has an affinity, real though not obvious, it 
may be useful to separate it from something with 
which it seems to be identified, but is not. Thus Mr. 
Iiobertson of Brighton, preaching on the loneliness of 
Christ (John xvi. 31, 32): "There are two kinds of 
solitude ; the first consisting of insulation of space, the 
other of isolation of the spirit. The first is simply 
separation by distance. . . . The other is loneliness of 

So also a sermon by another preacher on Phil. i. 23, 
" I am in a strait betwixt two," etc. " The two things 
that St. Paul was in a strait between are not those which 
most men are in a strait between. Most men who are 
in any strait in connexion with religion are in a strait 
between Christ and the world, between earth and 
heaven, between the broad road that goes down to de 
struction, and the narrow path that leadeth to life. . . . 
But the things that St. Paul was in a strait between are 
quite different from these. His hesitation lay between 
the service of Christ here and the full enjoyment of 
him hereafter ; between this life, with all its draw 
backs, but its noble opportunity of Christian useful 
ness, and the life to come, so perfect in its blessedness, 
so glorious in its rewards." 

6. In other cases, the introduction is furnished by 
some special and undeniable reason for giving atten 
tion to the lesson of the text. Tillotson, for example, 


begins his sermon on the Resurrection by a reference 
to the fact that the doctrine has been much opposed 
and run down : " The resurrection of the dead is one 
of the great articles of the Christian faith ; and yet it 
hath happened that this great article of our religion hath 
been made one of the chief objections against it. There 
is nothing that Christianity hath been more upbraided 
withal, both by the heathens of old and by the infidels 
of later times, than the impossibility of this article. So 
that it is a matter of great consideration and conse 
quence to vindicate our religion in this particular. For 
if the thing be evidently impossible, then it is highly 
unreasonable to propose it to the belief of mankind." 
A similar, but rather sharper instance may be given 
from Chillingworth, who rouses attention to his 
sermon on the perilous times of the last days by thus 
beginning : " To a discourse on these words, I cannot 
think of any fitter introduction than that wherewith 
our Saviour sometime began a sermon of his This 
day is this Scripture fulfilled. And I would to God 
that there were not great occasion to fear that a great 
part of it may be fulfilled in this place." 

The circumstances that give special interest to a text, 
or to a subject, are extremely various. The very 
brevity of a text may be turned to account. The first 
of Dr. J. H. Xewmau s Parochial Sermons, founded on 
the text, " Holiness, without which no man shall see 
the Lord," begins with the remark "In this text it- 
has seemed good to the Holy Spirit to convey a chief 
truth of religion in a few words. It is this circum 
stance which makes it peculiarly impressive ; for the 
truth itself is declared in one form or another in every 
part of Scripture." "Whatever, then, may be fitted to 
give special interest to a text, either at all times, or in 


the peculiar circumstances of the congregation, will 
furnish matter for an appropriate beginning. 

7. Occasionally it is suitable to introduce a subject 
by referring to something strange or mysterious about 
it that excites curiosity and demands an explanation. 
If we may judge from the frequency with which it 
occurs in his volume of sermons, this would seem to be 
a favourite method with Dr. Ker. On the text, "He 
that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow" (Eccl. i. 
1 8), he begins : " This is a very strange declaration to 
come from the man who had made wisdom his choice 
as the supreme thing in life, and who had been ap 
proved of by God for the decision." A sermon on the 
burial of Moses begins : " There is something strange 
and altogether singular in this, that Moses, the greatest 
of all the Old Testament prophets, should find a resting- 
place on the earth, and no man be able to find it out." 
And on the young man whom Christ pronounced not 
far from the kingdom of God, he begins, " If these 
had not been the words of Jesus Christ, there would 
probably have been some Christians found strongly 
objecting to them." Whenever an interest is excited 
by this means in the strange or unexpected feature of 
the text, attention is sure to be given to the attempt 
that must follow to explain the matter, and remove the 

8. Still another way of introducing sermons is the 
dramatic. To be effectively made use of, this method 
requires more dash and boldness than is common among 
our countrymen, or, except in a very subdued form, very 
suitable for young preachers. But it often comes with 
much effect from the great French preachers. Thus 
Bourdaloue, on the Passion, taking for his text the 
words, " Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me," 


etc., thus starts at once : " Is it then true that the 
Passion of Jesus Christ, of which we celebrate to-day 
the august but sorrowful mystery, is not the most 
touching object that can occupy our minds and excite 
our grief ? Is it true that our tears can be more holily 
and more suitably employed than in weeping over the 
God-man, and that another duty more pressing and 
more necessary, suspends, so to speak, the obligation 
which so just a gratitude imposes upon us in another 
place, to sympathize, by sentiments of tenderness, in 
the sufferings of our Divine Redeemer ? Never could 
we have supposed it, Christians ; and yet it is Jesus 
Christ who speaks to us, and who, as the last proof of 
his love, the most generous and the most disinterested 
that ever existed, in his way to Calvary, where he must 
die for us, warns us not to weep at his death, and to 
weep over every other thing, rather than his death." 

Although it may not often suit our quiet manner to 
begin in a way so pronouncedly dramatical as this, 
something of the kind is often highly appropriate. 
Thus, Dr. Guthrie, who did so great a service to the 
Scottish pulpit by the life with which his sermons 
teem, begins his sermons on the thirty- seventh chapter 
of Ezekiel : " Having scattered over an open field the 
bones of the human body, bring an anatomist to the 
scene. Conduct him to the valley where Ezekiel stood, 
with his eye on the skulls and dismembered skeletons 
of an unburied host. Observe the man of science, how 
he fits bone to bone, and part to part, till from those 
disjointed members he constructs a framework which, 
apart from our horror at the eyeless sockets and flesh- 
less form, appears perfectly, divinely beautiful. In 
hands which have the patience to collect and the skill 
to arrange these materials, how perfectly they fit ! 


bone to bone, and joint to joint, till the whole figure 
rises to the polished dome, and the dumb skeleton 
seems to say, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. " 

In many cases, the simplest form of dramatic writing, 
asking a question, makes a good beginning ; as in Dr. 
Newman s sermon on " The kingdom of God is not in 
word, but in power," " How are we the better for being 
members of the Christian Church ? What reason have 
we for thinking that our lives are very different from 
what they would have been if we had been heathens ? 
Have we, in the words of the text, received the King 
dom of God in word or in power ?" 

It is well to bear in view these different ways of 
beginning sermons, and the principles that underlie 
them. At the same time, it may be doubted whether 
it would be a wise thing for a preacher to get into the 
way of framing his introductions by rule. The ablest 
preachers have seldom done so, but have been guided 
by a kind of instinctive perception of the best and 
most suitable way of catching up the attention of their 
hearers, giving them a just view of the text, and pre 
paring them for the discourse that was to follow. In 
any case, it is not desirable that a preacher should have 
only one way of beginning, for different occasions and 
different subjects will demand different introductions. 
It may often happen, too, that a different introduction 
will suit the same sermon preached to a different audi 
ence, or on a different occasion ; the preacher may find 
something specially occupying the minds of the people 
that will enable him to make a more effective start. 
Experience too will help to guide young preachers. 
There is a hushed attention sometimes at the opening 
of a sermon, which not only shows that the preacher 
has struck a happy chord, but indicates that it would. 


be well for him not to allow it to slumber, but appeal 
to it as often as he wisely may. 

II. The second thing in a discourse is to announce 
the proposition. This however is not always done for 
mally, and does not always need to be. Sometimes 
it is self-evident the text itself proclaims it. Texts 
like the following proclaim their own subject : " It is 
appointed unto men once to die ;" " We must all appear 
before the judgment-seat of Christ ;" "The blood of 
Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." But in cases 
where the exact topic to be handled is not self-evident, 
or where the division will not bring it plainly out, 
there is an undoubted advantage in distinctly stating it. 
Thus, Dr. Chalmers s celebrated sermon " On the ex 
pulsive power of a new affection," begins by expressly 
announcing the thing to be shown. " There are two 
ways," he says, "in which a practical moralist may 
attempt to displace from the human heart its love of 
the world, either by a demonstration of the world s 
vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon 
simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is 
not worthy of it ; or by setting forth another object, 
even God, as more worthy of its attachment ; so as that 
the heart shall be prevailed upon, not to resign an old 
affection which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to 
exchange an old affection for a new one. My purpose 
is to show that from the constitution of our nature the 
former method is altogether incompetent and ineffec 
tual, and that the latter method will alone suffice for 
the rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong- 
affection that domineers over it." Some of the old 
preachers made a practice of formally announcing their 
subject. Jonathan Edwards commonly gives it as a 
Proposition Ebenezer Erskine and others of the same 


school, as a Doctrine. This formality would be rather 
embarrassing than otherwise ; but in every case in 
which clearness demands that a statement be given of 
the object of the discourse, no common pains ought to 
be taken to do it well. Neatness, clearness, conciseness, 
must be earnestly sought after, because the statement 
ought to be capable of being readily remembered, and 
ought to remain before the minds of the audience during 
the whole progress of the discourse. 

III. We proceed to the third thing the proof in 
connexion with which we have to notice the subject of 
divisions. The discourses of our Lord and his apostles 
had not formal or announced divisions, and the preach 
ers of the early church, though they sometimes num 
bered their paragraphs, did not often enumerate their- 
heads. It would be foolish therefore to represent heads 
as essential to a good sermon, or to condemn a preacher 
for not using them, provided the structure of his mind 
were such that he could more effectively draw his 
remarks, each out of its predecessor, like the folds of 
a telescope, and provided that he could in this way 
equally keep up the attention of his audience, and 
engage both their heads and their hearts. In platform 
speeches one seldom makes use of heads, because on 
the platform we are more conversational and less given 
to abstract treatises ; and when in the pulpit the con 
versational method is followed, and the preacher strives 
to speak to the people right home to the actual feel 
ings of their hearts he is less disposed to resort to 
formal divisions. It is the heaviest style of preaching 
that needs most to be broken up into heads ; and there 
can be no doubt that in many cases the divisions that 
are so formally announced are little better than a 
disguise of the heaviness of the discourse. Yet in dis- 


courses which have the instruction of the audience as 
one of their leading objects, divisions of some sort are 
very desirable, both as guiding-posts to the preacher 
and stepping-stones to the audience. Only it must be 
seen to that instead of signals for inattention they really 
tend to increase the interest of the audience in the 

The celebrated essay of the French divine, Claude, 
" On the composition of a sermon," is chiefly occupied 
with the division of discourses. The subject is treated 
with remarkable fulness, both theoretically and by 
illustrative cases. Many modes of viewing texts and 
topics are suggested, fitted to show the best method of 
dividing, and likewise of bringing out in proper order 
and with great fulness all the views and lessons which 
the subjects embrace. We must content ourselves in 
this place with a few general remarks, referring to 
Claude not only for a full discussion, but for number 
less minute hints on particular texts and topics. 

It is obvious that hardly any subject or text can be 
divided well, without being first subjected to a very 
careful examination. For though a possible and even 
charming mode of division may sometimes be flashed 
into one s mind, it is quite possible that on further con 
sideration it may have to be abandoned, as either inap 
propriate or palpably incomplete. 

On whatever principle the division of a subject may 
be made, three general rules are always applicable : 1. 
The heads ought to be few in number ; 2. Logical in 
arrangement; 3. Briefly, concisely, and attractively 

1. A great multiplicity of heads and divisions is 
simply bewildering, and is accepted by the bulk of 
hearers as a proof that, as no effort to remember the 


whole could be successful, no effort to remember them 
needs to be made. If it is really desired that the sub 
stance of the sermon be carried away by the hearers, 
the preacher must limit his points to the number which 
their average attention and memory may reasonably 
be expected to grasp. If the number of points that 
presents itself to him be much greater, it is absolutely 
essential that he make a selection of the most salient 
or important. It is said of a Puritan preacher that he 
once got the length of " seventy-sixthly." I have heard 
of a clever criticism of a Latin discourse delivered long 
ago in the Divinity Hall at Aberdeen, when, after a full 
hour, the discourser announced his last head, " undevi- 
gesimo et tandem ultimo," on which his critic remarked, 
that the only observation that occurred to him was, 
that he had never before heard the word tandem used 
with such singular propriety. " Division/ says Claude, 
" ought in general to be limited to a small number of 
parts; they should never exceed four or five at the most; 
the most admired sermons have only two or three parts." 
2. In arrangement, divisions ought to be logical. 
Care must be taken not to put a division first, which 
requires something to be explained belonging to a sub 
sequent head. Care must also be taken, in any enume 
ration of points, to avoid repeating the same thing in 
different words, or making that a separate head, which 
is properly a particular under a former division. Sup 
pose, for example, that the text is, " Be ye also ready ; 
for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man 
cometh." Here it would be natural to show what is 
implied in being ready. Suppose it should be laid 
down that to be ready is, 1. To be at peace with God. 
2. To be a sincere believer in Christ. 3. To be follow 
ing peace with all men and holiness. 4. To be a par- 


taker of the Holy Spirit. 5. To be using one s talents 
in the Master s service ; it is evident, that though all 
of these are right separately, the enumeration is doubly 
faulty. The first particular is not only included in the 
second, but depends on it, and so does the third on the 
fourth. Union to Christ and participation in the Holy 
Ghost might be referred to as the fundamental re 
quisites, and under these such special fruits of either as 
bear specially on the readiness in question. 

3. In the statement of the divisions, there ought to 
be a special effort to be clear, pithy, and concise. If 
possible, each ought to be expressed in a single word, 
or in a single prominent word. If we would condescend 
to take a lesson from children s sermons we should see 
this very clearly, for every successful preacher to children 
expresses his divisions with wonderful conciseness. He 
knows how vain it would be to make their memories 
carry more. It is the conviction that but little atten 
tion is usually paid to divisions that makes some 
preachers omit them altogether, trusting more to the 
general effect of a number of thoughts bearing in the 
same direction than to a definite statement and illustra 
tion of each several particular. 

To come now to the practical question, How ought 
we to divide ? The question really branches into two ; 
for there is one rule applicable to the division of texts, 
and another to the division of subjects. 

Texts often contain their own division. " And now 
abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ; but the greatest 
of these is charity." The division obviously is, first, 
the three graces that abide or are permanent (the force of 
fji6Vi must not be overlooked) ; and, second, the supe 
riority of charity, and the grounds thereof. The cor 
responding passage in 1 Thess. i. 3, in which the apostle 


dwells on the grounds of his satisfaction with the Thes- 
salonian Church, equally suggests its own division 
" Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, 
and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord 
Jesus Christ." So also the three rules for the believer s 
daily life (Rom. xii.) : " Not slothful in business, fervent 
in spirit, serving the Lord." 

It is often useful to announce the division by neatly 
indicating the topics contained in the several parts of 
the text. Thus, in Eph. vi. 18 the apostle exhorts to 
prayer : " Praying always with all prayer and suppli 
cation in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all per 
severance and supplication for all saints." Here we have 
a full view of the more important qualities of true prayer. 
(1.) Incessant " praying always." (2.) Manifold 
" with all prayer" (all kinds of prayer secret, eja- 
culatory, domestic, public). (3.) Spiritual " in the 
Spirit." (^Vigilant "watching thereunto." (5.) Per 
severing " with all perseverance." (6.) Intercessory 
" supplication for all saints." The following instance we 
take from Claude. It is founded on the text, Eph. i. 3, 
" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings 
in heavenly places in Christ." There is (1.) A grate 
ful acknowledgment " Blessed be God." (2.) The title 
under which the apostle blesses God " The Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ." (3.) The reason for this " He 
hath blessed us." (4.) The fulness of this blessing 
" With all blessings." (5.) The nature of the blessings 
" Spiritual." (6.) The place or sphere in which he hath 
blessed us " In heavenly places." (7.) The person 
through whom " In Christ Jesus." Discourses of this 
kind are among the most useful that one can preach, 
and they fulfil a celebrated canon of Chrysostom s in 


regard to sermons, " That God ought to speak much, 
and man little." 

Texts that so obviously suggest their own division 
are not, however, the most numerous class, and in 
many instances it is more difficult to divide them. The 
preacher s great effort ought to be to find out the natural 
order of the topics, and, following that, to give to the 
subject all the unity of which it is capable. Great 
benefit will often be derived from carefully singling out 
the leading statement of the passage, and grouping the 
subordinate statements under it. Thus (2 Cor. iii. 18) 
" We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the 
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from 
glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord." It will be 
found that the leading statement here is, that under 
the gospel we behold the glory of the Lord as in a glass 
with open face, and that the subordinate statements 
are, 1. By this process we are changed into the same 
image. 2. This change is gradual : " from glory to 
glory." 3. It is produced by the Spirit of the Lord. 

It may sometimes happen that there are two natural 
orders, the order of time, and the order of our expe 
rience. Thus the text, Heb. x. 10, " By the which will 
we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of 
Jesus Christ once for all," viewed according to the order 
of time, would be divided thus : 1. The will of God is 
the ultimate cause of our sanctification. 2. The offering 
up of Christ once for all is the immediate cause. 3. The 
change produced on us we are sanctified. But in such 
a case it is better to take the order of our experience : 
1. The offering. 2. The sanctification which it pro 
duces. 3. The will of God, in which our sanctification 
originates, and which gives it efficacy. 

There is a large class of texts which are not to be 


divided into their parts, but rather treated according to 
their aspects. They do not so much contain truths as 
they recognise and suggest them. Thus in the sermon 
already referred to on the text " I would that not only 
thou, but also all that hear me, were both almost and 
altogether such as I am, except these bonds" the 
preacher finds two of the Christian graces, but in 
different modes of action, Faith in a state of repose, and 
Love in a state of struggle. Faith in a state of repose 
shows itself in its satisfaction with its condition ; and, 
though the text hardly suggests the particulars, the 
preacher shows how faith is satisfied (a) with its 
foundation, (&) with its experiences, and (c) with its 
expectations. Love, on the other hand, is here seen in 
a state of struggle it pants for the establishment of 
Christian brotherhood, " such as I am ; " for the entire 
blessedness of those that excite its interest, "both almost 
and altogether ; " for the entire blessedness of all men, 
" not only thou, but also all that hear me ; " and it pleads 
with God to make them so, " I would to God." There 
is a combination here of parts and aspects, or rather 
the parts are brought skilfully in under the aspects. 

In some cases it is necessary to explain the text, 
especially when it is obscure and difficult ; in other 
cases, all that is needed is to enforce and apply a familiar 
truth. Sometimes the preacher proceeds by building 
upon the text a series of observations suggested by it. 
For example, the text (Acts ix. 4), "Saul, Saul, why 
persecutest thou me ? " has been treated thus after the 
observational manner 1. Unconverted men generally 
are in a persecuting spirit towards earnest Christians. 
2. Christ has his eye upon persecutors. 3. The kind 
ness or injury done to his people Christ considers done 
to himself. 4. The conviction of sin is the first step to 


conversion. 5. The calls of Christ are earnest and 
particular, " Saul, Saul." 6. Christ condescends to 
reason with his enemies : "Why persecutest thou me ? " 

Textual sermons may also be constructed by speci 
fying the particular modes in which some general 
principle or statement finds its verification. Thus let 
the text be (Numb, xxxii. 23), " Be sure your sin will 
find you out," a useful discourse may be based on the 
different ways in which sin finds out the sinner e.g., 
1. By remorse of conscience ; 2. By the power of natural 
law ; 3. By the special working of divine providence ; 
4. By the awful revelations of the day of judgment. A 
very favourite and interesting species of textual dis 
courses of this class are those which are founded on 
some figure or emblem of Scripture. The resemblances 
between the symbol and the thing symbolized always 
open an interesting field. For example (Eev. xxii. 16), 
"I am . . . the morning star:" 1. Christ s influence 
is as light after darkness ; 2. Possesses for ever the 
freshness of the morning ; 3. Is the pledge of a glorious 
future ; 4. Even of the perfect day. 

So much for the division of texts ; we should next 
consider the division of subjects. But we confess that 
we shrink from a question on which so much has been 
written to so little purpose. It may be useful to study 
the twenty-eight topics of Aristotle, the twenty- seven 
of Claude, and the sixteen of Gresley ; but we do not 
think that even after doing so the student will find 
himself in possession of very serviceable rules. He will 
undoubtedly find useful views suggested to him, out of 
which occasionally good divisions will come. But as a 
rule it will be better for him to consult his own common 
sense, and in connexion with each topic to consider 
what mode of presenting it is most likely to lodge the 


great truths which belong to it in the mind and heart 
of his hearers. 

There is a danger of divisions becoming a hindrance 
instead of a help to the great end of preaching. When 
constructed too artificially and stated too formally, they 
break up the continuity of thought, and diminish instead 
of helping the final impression. Number two may lead 
the preacher into a line quite different from number 
one, and number three different from either. The true 
idea of a division is, that it shall serve to promote the 
unity and continuity of thought, and that the parts 
shall be so arranged that each shall increase and inten 
sify the impression produced by the part preceding. If 
continuous thought and accumulated impression can be 
secured better without formal divisions, by all means let 
them be discarded. The most efficient discourses are 
those where the line of remark is clear and simple, and 
the preacher as he goes along gets nearer to his audience, 
and forces them to give heed to the great subjects of his 

IV. The last part of a discourse is appropriately 
termed the conclusion. Of the importance of this 
part it is hardly possible to speak too strongly. It 
ought to be the most vital of the whole, and if the 
preacher has been gradually warming, and accumulating 
force as the discourse has advanced, at the conclusion 
his spirit should be on fire, and the impression of his 
closing passages should be by far the strongest of any. 
Yet in practice the conclusion is often the weakest 
part. The preacher perhaps, in preparing his discourse, 
gave up the labour of arranging his thoughts before 
coming to the close, so that instead of being more con 
centrated at the end, his discourse lost itself in a marsh, 
or ended like the emptying of a pitcher, with a few 


poor drops and dregs. Cicero s rule was, " Quae excel- 
lant, serventur ad perorandum." A conclusion certainly 
cannot be worthy if it only says weakly what has been 
said previously perhaps in better words and with greater 

In general, the conclusion of a discourse will pro 
bably assume the form either of inferences, or of a direct 
appeal. The nature of the subject will determine 
which of these is preferable. If the subject has been 
chiefly of an expository nature, inferences will probably 
be needed to bring out its significance and importance, 
and its relation to the practical interests of the hearers. 
If no inferences are needed to show the practical bearing 
of the subject, the preacher s concluding remarks will 
naturally take the form of an appeal. But in any case 
the inferences ought to embody the spirit of an appeal, 
and the appeal ought to carry all the weight of infer 
ences. The last effort of the preacher ought to be a 
signal one like Samson s last achievement against the 
Philistines. It ought to be the concentration, as with 
a burning glass, of all the rays that have been collected 
during the progress of the address. If during the 
sermon he has been bringing up his guns, at the close 
he should make their fire converge with resistless 
momentum. The rule " ut augeatur semper, et iricrescat 
oratio " reaches the climax of its application now. Con 
siderations derived from the discourse fitted to move 
the will, conscience, and feelings of the hearer should be 
pressed with an earnestness that will take 110 denial. 
" Hie si unquam," says Quinctilian, " totos eloquentiae 
fontes aperire fas est." If the understanding has been 
gained in the earlier parts, the heart and the will must 
be gained in the later. 

But let the preacher beware of trifling with this 


opportunity. Let him beware of the temptation to play 
off some highly rhetorical passage at the close of his 
discourse. The arts of a mere tinsel rhetoric are at all 
times sufficiently hateful in the pulpit, but most of all 
when the preacher is about to part with his audience, 
and utter the words that are to ring in their ears when 
his voice is silent. Let him also above all things avoid 
an artificial earnestness. Let his last appeal, above all 
parts of his sermon, be from the heart to the heart. 
There is no time when an earnest preacher can so 
readily forget himself and everything else, save the 
eternal interests which he represents. The last five 
minutes of the discourse, in point of real effect, ought 
to be worth all the thirty or thirty-five that have gone 
before them. It is fatal folly for the preacher to ex 
haust himself and his audience before they are reached. 

Various other questions may be asked with reference 
to conclusions. Ought we always to conclude with an 
offer of the Gospel ? Ought we to address more classes 
of hearers than one ? And especially, ought our ser 
mons to contain appeals both to the converted and the 
unconverted ? 

To lay down rules on such subjects seems quite out 
of place. To follow an invariable practice is hardly 
better. Let a preacher, for example, get into the invari 
able habit of addressing converted and unconverted 
persons separately at the end of every discourse, it is 
hardly in the nature of things that he should avoid for 
mality and consequent feebleness. There is no good 
reason for shutting up a preacher to any invariable way 
of concluding. Better far that on each occasion he 
should carry his subject to its natural close, and point 
it to the application best fitted by the blessing of the 
Spirit to gain his great end. It is great wisdom to 


know when to end. To spin out a discourse after the 
preacher has exhausted both his audience and himself, 
and leave them with no wish but that he would be 
done, is terrible, really terrible. It is a sin to expose 
a divine ordinance to the scornful treatment which 
such a proceeding provokes. If any summing up of 
the previous remarks is necessary, it ought to be brief. 
Preachers, no doubt, do well to aid their hearers in 
carrying away as much of their discourses as they can. 
But they will do better to remember that discourses are 
for a higher purpose than even to be remembered. It 
is said of a poor woman, who worked in a wool- mill, 
and used to walk a long way to attend the services of 
a godly minister, but could not remember his sermons, 
that when her neighbours used to taunt her, she replied, 
with that happy art which can make ready use of 
common things for spiritual purposes, "Do you see 
the wool that I am washing ? It keeps none of the 
water, but it is always growing whiter. It is true I 
remember little of what I hear, but I would fain hope 
that I too am growing whiter." 



THE object of an expository lecture is to bring out 
the meaning and apply the teaching of longer passages 
of Scripture than are commonly used as the texts of 
sermons. The " lecture/ as it is technically called in 
Scotland, is more didactic than the sermon. The ele 
ment of teaching occupies a larger place than that of 
persuasion. Not that persuasion may be omitted, for 
the highest skill of the preacher, in the construction of 
a lecture, will be shown in making the whole converge 
in the way of persuasion. Only, by the nature of the 
case, he will have to bestow more time and pains on 
the exposition of the passage ; whereas in the sermon, 
he will aim more directly and constantly at moving, 
guiding, and elevating the soul of his hearers. 

In lecturing, you necessarily throw yourself more 
thoroughly into the current of the thoughts of the 
sacred writer. You place yourself as much as possible 
in his position, and you try to bring out precisely the 
whole circumstances of the case, as they presented 
themselves to him. Hence arises one of the difficulties 
of the lecture. To expound the past is one thing, to 
move the present by means of it is another. The per 
fection of lecturing is, so to combine the past and the 
present, to make the one such a mirror of the other, 
that what is said of the one shall have a powerful 


influence in moving the other. Let us suppose, for 
example, that you are lecturing on the parable of the 
unfaithful steward. Naturally, you bend your energies 
in the first instance towards expounding the parable 
removing the difficulties, and vindicating the teaching 
of our Lord. But to what effect will all this be, if you 
do not come into contact with analogous things in the 
hearts and lives of your audience? It will be little 
better than a piece of dry antiquarianisrn. And no 
doubt it is a fatal fault of many lectures, as of many 
sermons, that they keep at a great distance from present- 
day experiences, and aim only at throwing light on the 
remote past. To find out the representative principle 
that underlies the sacred Scriptures, to find in the 
past a type of the present, arid so to expound what was 
said or done in that little patch of Syrian soil, the land 
of Canaan, that the hearer of the nineteenth century 
may feel unmistakably " Thou art the man," is the 
very perfection of an expository lecture. Scripture 
thus expounded is in little danger of being caricatured 
as " Hebrew old clothes." It then becomes plain that 
what things were written of old were written for our 
edification, and that the Bible, being God s revelation, 
is a book for all ages and for all men. 

Since the lecture aims so much in the first instance 
at expounding the passage on which it is founded, the 
introduction may very fitly be of a more exegetical 
character than is commonly best for the sermon. Not 
that this is invariably the best form of introduction. 
The drift of the passage may be too obvious to require 
to be indicated, and many things may make it desirable 
to begin the lecture on the same principle as the ser 
mon, with something that will arouse interest or draw 
attention. In lectures as in sermons, a monotonous or 


commonplace commencement, too often a mere signal 
to hearers to let their attention wander, is by every 
means to be avoided. 

The advantages of expository preaching, especially 
when the lectures form a continued series, are numerous 
and important. The preacher finds his text ready to 
his hand. He is constrained to comprehend a greater 
breadth of Scriptural truth than he would take in if 
each text were chosen by itself. He is carried beyond 
the range of topics which he might naturally choose, 
borne out, as it were, more into the open sea. Details 
of duty and of sin which otherwise might seem beyond 
the scope of the pulpit, may not only be brought within 
it, but the preacher may gain additional authority in 
handling these from the fact that it is a text coming in 
course that gives him the occasion. Thus in a course 
of lectures on the ten commandments, one may say 
things regarding the seventh, which could not be said 
if the subject were approached without the protection 
which is afforded by its coming in course. To the 
people the practice of expository lecturing is very 
instructive ; they see more of the fulness and compre 
hensiveness of Scripture, and are trained to a more 
careful habit of reading it, and to an habitual endeavour 
to observe its scope and connexion. 

On the other hand, there are difficulties connected 
with the lecture, and especially the course of lectures, 
which it is not every preacher, not even every able 
preacher, that can overcome. Subjects may turn up, 
as was formerly remarked, into which the preacher can 
not enter with much spirit, because no allied stream of 
thought has started up in his own mind. At the same 
time, there can be little doubt that if the preacher s 
attention be directed pretty early to the passage in 


question, and some pains be taken to find out its bear 
ings, and if the fountain of all light be earnestly 
resorted to, the subject, whatever it may be, will be 
come more interesting, and a suitable line of remark 
will open to him. A still greater trial to the preacher s 
powers, however, will be found in the difficulty of 
grasping the whole passage, ascertaining its great central 
truth, grouping the subordinate lessons and details, 
passing from one to another without abruptness, and 
fusing the whole into a homogeneous mass. For a 
lecture, in the real sense of the term, is neither a para 
phrase nor a commentary. It is not an easier mode of 
preaching, adopted by the preacher to save trouble. It 
is not a series of little sermons on half-a-dozen con 
secutive texts in place of one. The preacher must not 
suppose that he is to take up clause after clause, mak 
ing a few unconnected remarks on each, passing rapidly 
from those which are unsuggestive, and dwelling at 
greater length on those on which it is easiest to hang a 
few commonplace remarks. The true lecture, as has 
been remarked, like the true sermon, should have a true 
unity should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. 
It ought to have an organized structure, and all its 
parts ought to bear upon a definite object. Our Lord s 
parables, in the distinctness with which they present 
some great central truth, and the skill with which 
various related truths are attached to it, present the 
beau-ideal of the structure of an expository lecture. A 
remark formerly made as to what sermons should con 
tain, is also applicable to lectures. It is not necessary 
to insert every remark that could be made upon the 
passage, but only such as have a bearing on the great 
end of the whole. A lecture is not a philosophical 
treatise, but an address designed to impress some truth 


or duty on the hearers. The topics of which it ought 
to consist are those most fitted, under God s Spirit, to 
accomplish this end. 

" Even when a suitable passage has been selected," 
remarks Dr. Shedd, " the sermonizer will need to em 
ploy his strongest logical talent, and his best rhetorical 
ability, to impart sufficient of the rhetorical form and 
spirit to the expository sermon. He will need to watch 
his mind and his plan with great care, lest the discourse 
overflow its banks, and spread out in all directions, 
losing the current, and the deep, strong volume of elo 
quence. This species of sermonizing is very liable to 
be a diluting of divine truth instead of an exposition. 
Perhaps, among modern preachers, Chalmers exhibits 
the best example of the expository sermon. The ora 
torical structure and spirit of his mind enabled him to 
create a current, in almost every species of discourse 
which he undertook, and through his lectures on the 
Komans, we find a strong unifying stream of eloquence 
constantly setting in, with an increasing and surging 
force, from the beginning to the end. The expository 
preaching of this distinguished sacred orator is well worth 
studying in the respect of which we are treating." * 

In the well-known work on Preaching by the Rev. 
Daniel Moore, special commendation is bestowed on some 
of the Puritan writers as excelling in expository dis 
course. " For power," says he, " to seize on the salient 
moral of a passage, or pick up the interlacing threads of 
several verses, and combine them into one strand of 
thought, the preachers of the period referred to are sur 
passed by few. Writers like Manton on St. James, or 
Adams on St. Peter, or Greenhill on Ezekiel, or Caryl 
on Job, will rarely be consulted by the expository 

1 Shedd s Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 155. 


preacher without profit. As greatly helpful to his 
purpose also, especially in affording examples of devout 
application, as well as dexterous and able grouping, he 
will not overlook the commentaries of Matthew Henry 
and the pious JBurkitt." * To the older works here men 
tioned, let us add Archbishop Leighton s Exposition of 
First Peter. Fair in exegesis, excellent in arranging 
and grouping, rich and suggestive in commenting and 
applying, Leighton is moreover marked by a serenity of 
mind and a heavenliness of tone that seem to carry us 
to the gate of heaven. For calming, purifying, and ele 
vating, there is hardly a writer to be compared to him. 

Some of the exegetical writers of Germany have con 
tributed valuable materials for the expository lecture. Of 
Bengel s Gnomon it is not needful that we should speak. 
Hengstenberg, Tholuck, Stier, Olshausen, Besser, Krum- 
macher, and others, have done much towards enabling 
us to bring out of our treasuries things new and old. 
The commentaries edited by Lange are especially help 
ful ; the " homiletical hints," if used simply as hints, 
being very valuable for enriching our expositions. 

Let us now notice briefly a few of the different 
modes of treatment. 

1. Sometimes the passage suggests, or even states 
its own divisions, and this is a great advantage both for 
perspicuity and unity. Suppose, for example, that the 
lecture is on the first Psalm. Not only the great salient 
truth of the psalm, the contrast between the godly and 
the ungodly, but the illustrative particulars under 
each great head, are expressly stated, and with some 
thing of the force and interest of a climax. It is of no 
small benefit to the lecturer to be able to devise a 
simple logical division, running parallel to the succes- 

1 Thoughts on Preaching, pp. 307, 308. 


sive verses or paragraphs of his text. Thus the psalm 
describes : I. The blessedness of the godly man. 
II. The misery of the wicked. I. The godly man is 
delineated 1. In his character ; 2. In his condition. As 
to his character, there is first a series of negative par 
ticulars, showing what he is not ; then illustrations of 
what he is : (1) He walketh not in the counsel of the 
ungodly ; (2) he standeth not in the way of sinners ; (3) 
he sitteth not in the seat of the scornful. But, positively, 

(1) his delight is in the law of the Lord, and (2) he 
meditates therein day and night. His character being 
thus described, his condition corresponds. And here 
the poetry of the psalm conies out; a figurative re 
semblance is chosen, giving animation and beauty to 
the description " He is like a tree planted by the 
rivers of water, that (1) bringeth forth fruit in season, 

(2) his leaf doth not wither ; and (3) the figure being 
now dropt whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The 
case of the wicked man is then dwelt on. The character 
is not enlarged on being the converse of the other. His 
condition, like that of the other, is described by a figure 
he is like the chaff which the wind drives away. 
And this instability will come to its climax, and its 
ruinous consequences will be seen on the day of judg 
ment. This gives the preacher the opportunity of en 
larging the contrast, and deepening its colour. The 
certainty of these conclusions is confirmed in both cases 
by the Lord s omniscience "For the Lord knoweth 
the way of the righteous : but the way of the ungodly 
shall perish." 

It is plain that such a variety of topics admit of being 
handled in a single lecture only in the way of a running 
commentary, and that a different mode of treatment 
must be adopted, if the preacher is to go deeper into 


the substance of the psalm. Such a treatment is the 
following : Two classes of men are here described by 
their appropriate law or rule of life. The one follow 
the law of the Lord, and the other follow the counsel of 
the ungodly. The fruits or results of these several 
rules of life are described : the stability and growing- 
prosperity of the one ; the instability and final destruc 
tion of the other. 

2. In many cases, however, the passage does not 
suggest its own division, and pains must be taken to 
discover the natural order of the topics. The order to 
be followed is such as will enable the lecturer to en 
large on the several points, without having to anticipate 
some and go back on others ; bringing all forward in a 
natural, simple, and easy succession. Suppose that the 
subject of lecture were the first eight verses of 2 Cor. v. : 
the passage where the apostle contrasts the earthly 
house of the tabernacle with the house not made with 
hands. It is plain that, following the order of the 
passage, we should have to repeat the same topics : e.g., 
v. 2, " we groan ;" v. 4, " we groan, being burdened ; v. 2, 
"we earnestly desire to be clothed upon;" v. 4, "we 
would not be unclothed, but clothed upon." We must 
therefore endeavour to find a simple but comprehensive 
order of topics ; laying hold, first, of the leading truth, 
and grouping the subordinate truths under it. The 
leading truth is, that in its future state the soul of the 
believer will be lodged in a letter dwelling than it is 
lodged in here. The disadvantages of the present 
dwelling is the first subordinate truth the believer s 
groaning and burden ; but his longing is not for a 
wholly disembodied state, his soul still craves some 
kind of clothing. This leads to the next topic the 
advantages of the future dwelling (1) it is a building 


of God, (2) a house not made with hands, (3) eternal 
in the heavens, (4) it is of such a structure that 
mortality shall be swallowed up of life. The next 
subordinate truth is, the corresponding fellowship per 
taining to each condition, expressed more pithily in 
the original ez^/^otWe? ev TO> cr^fiari, e/c$rjjjiovfj,ev 
aTTO rov Kvpiov etcSrj/jirjo-ai, etc rov orw^aro<^ ev$r)/j,r)(Tai, 
7T/30? rov Kvpiov. The last truth is, the grounds of our 
confidence (1) God hath given us the earnest of the 
Spirit ; (2) we walk by faith and not by sight ; hence 
the joyful state of mind even of the suffering Christian, 
and the earnest desire with which he looks forward to 
the change when the body is dissolved by death. 

3. Again, there are lectures, founded on passages of 
acknowledged difficulty, where a considerable share of 
labour must be devoted to the elucidation of the meaning 
of the sacred writer. Of such passages the following 
are samples : Eomans ix. 3-5, " For I could wish that 
myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my 
kinsmen according to the flesh," etc. ; Hebrews vi. 4-6, 
"For it is impossible for those who were once en 
lightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift ... if 
they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." 
In dealing with such passages as these, the first and 
chief object of the preacher must be to ascertain the 
writer s meaning. For this purpose, the context must be 
examined with unusual care, in order that the exact 
current of thought may be ascertained. A some 
what elaborate comparison may be needed with other 
passages, either parallel or apparently opposed, and the 
exact meaning of particular expressions may have to be 
investigated. This process of exegetical inquiry being 
completed, all that remains will be to press home the 
lessons of the passage. Much care must be taken, in 


handling such a text, to adapt one s-self to one s 
audience avoiding the extremes of excessive depth, 
and excessive superficiality. In fact, one of the best 
possible tests of practical ability is to discourse suitably 
and impressively on such difficult topics as these. 

In lecturing on our Lord s parables there is not often 
occasion for grappling with difficulties or obscurities, 
but there is much need for ascertaining the precise 
point in hand, the single analogy with which our Lord 
deals. The remark has often been made that to repre 
sent the parables as containing analogies at every point 
would be to turn them to purposes the very opposite of 
what our Lord designed, inasmuch as it seems to have 
been his intention to make the one point of real analogy 
conspicuous by surrounding it with circumstances 
where there is opposition rather than agreement. 

Historical passages have sometimes difficulties, but 
more commonly not. In general, a brief statement of 
the facts is desirable, avoiding tediousness. This state 
ment should convey the preacher s idea of the light in 
which the facts are to be viewed, and prepare the way 
for the lessons derived from them. A delicate task is 
presented to the lecturer on historical passages ; the 
sacred writer seldom states explicitly what is to be 
praised and what is to be blamed, either in the acts or 
the sayings of the person in question ; the sifting of 
the character and life falls to the preacher. The suc 
cessful treatment of history and biography in the way 
of lecture is extremely difficult to minds of the rigidly 
logical and dogmatic cast ; where there is more of the 
discursive and imaginative quality, success is usually 

4. A fourth mode is that in which the lecturer 
proceeds by a series of observations. This however is 


less desirable than any of the other methods, because 
it affords less security for exhausting the whole teach 
ing of the passage. 

As a general rule, the practical and hortatory part 
will come most fully at the end ; but it is not at all 
desirable to make a complete separation between the 
explanatory and the hortatory as you go along ; there 
should be a practical vein all through. Whatever 
there is of an inferential kind at the close should 
rather be the summing up of what has been substan 
tially brought out as you have gone along, than new 
matter reserved to the end. 

It may be useful here to offer a few observations re 
garding the portions of Scripture which may best be 
employed for a course of expository lectures. It is 
remarkable how intensely interested many of the better 
class of hearers become in such a course, when it is 
really thorough and satisfying, how great exertions 
they will often make not to miss any member of the 
series. When this is the case, the minds of preacher 
and hearers are bound together by links of singular 
strength. It is to be remarked, however, that a taste 
for expository preaching on the part of a congregation 
presupposes a more than ordinary measure of esteem 
for the Word of God, acquaintance with it, and interest 
in it. It is the more ignorant, easy-minded, and care 
less class to whom lecturing is distasteful. Eobert 
Hall found that lecturing was relished by his well- 
trained congregation in Cambridge, but when he re 
moved to Leicester he found the people less capable of 
appreciating it, and had to give up the practice. 
W T here there is a profound sense of the authority of 
Scripture, a deep desire to be under its guidance, an 
earnest wish to know and follow all that the Lord has 


spoken, good expository lecturing cannot fail to be 
highly valued. 

It is very common in Scotland for preachers to give 
expository lectures covering the whole of some book or 
books of the Bible. Preachers have been known to 
begin at Genesis and go right on, sometimes however 
selecting only portions, till they came to the end of 
Eevelation. But for the most part the principle of 
selecting certain books, as being better adapted than 
others for expository lecturing, has been followed. 
From its very varied historical, biographical, and general 
interest, the book of Genesis has been generally a 
favourite one, and many a young minister has begun 
his ministry by lecturing through it. The only other 
books of the Old Testament that as complete books 
seem to be often attempted are the poetical books, 
the Psalms, the Song of Solomon, and perhaps we may 
add, the difficult book of Ecclesiastes. In regard to 
the New Testament, however, the case is almost pre 
cisely the reverse. There is hardly a book that is not 
often subjected to this process (with the exception per 
haps of the pastoral Epistles). The Gospels, the Acts, 
the Epistles of Paul, the Hebrews, the general Epistles, 
and even the Apocalypse itself, though probably least 
frequently of all, are quite commonly made the subjects 
of exhaustive exposition. The preacher must determine 
for himself which of these he will adopt. According 
as he feels most at home in narrative, or in doctrine, 
or in experimental subjects, will probably and properly 
be his first choice. Thereafter he will be more guided 
perhaps by a regard to what he deems the spiritual 
necessities of his flock. He will endeavour, as a wise 
steward, to give to every one a portion of meat in due 
season. He will guard against monotony, and if once 


he has carried his people elaborately through one of 
the profounder books he will probably deem it wise to 
let the next book be somewhat more easy. Whatever 
other subjects a minister may select, it is hardly possible 
that, in these times, he should not feel it a duty, in some 
shape or other, to take up the life of our blessed Lord. 
Either in lectures on a single Gospel, or on a harmony 
of the Gospels, or on selected portions, he will try to 
bring that subject prominently before his people. 

A less serious undertaking than lecturing over a 
whole book is to lecture on selected chapters. For in 
deed there are chapters, or groups of chapters, that have 
a character of their own, as much so as if they formed 
separate books. The Sermon on the Mount, the fare 
well discourse of our Lord, the 53d chapter of Isaiah, 
certain of the Psalms, such as the 22d or the 51st 
the 8th or the 12th chapter of Eomans, the 13th or 
the 15th of 1 Corinthians, the 2d of Ephesians, the 
llth of Hebrews, the second and third chapters of 
Eevelation, and many other chapters that might be 
named, are admirably adapted for this purpose. The 
people get the benefit of the principle of continuity, 
without having to contemplate a length of period to 
which the ordinary avocations and changes of life are 
hardly adapted. One thing the preacher must make up 
his mind to, when once he begins, to go on to the close. 
He must guard against a habit of fitfulness and irregu 
larity, for people are quick to spy out a minister s in 
firmities, and it will be no advantage to his influence if 
his people are tempted to compare him to the man that 
began to build a tower, and was not able to finish it. 

The biographies of Scripture furnish a very favour 
able field for expository lectures to those whose hand 
has the proper touch for such subjects. It needs 


something of the artist s power to grasp the striking 
features, portray them clearly and strongly, connect 
them with moral and spiritual truths, and point them 
easily and strongly to the great practical lessons of life. 
But the interest, the variety, and the charm of Scrip 
ture biography are so great, that no common effort 
should be made to cultivate this field. 

Besides lecturing over particular books, or portions 
of books, it is a common practice to give courses on 
connected subjects. Our Lord s parables and miracles 
obviously form a most convenient and useful basis for 
this practice. The attributes of God have been made 
the subject of a celebrated series by Atterbury, as the 
Apostle s Creed has also by Barrow. The Ten Com 
mandments, the Beatitudes, the Lord s Prayer, the rela 
tive and social duties, the works of the flesh and the 
fruit of the Spirit, the whole armour of God, the several 
stories of the edifice which, in 2 Peter i., we are exhorted 
to build on faith, are also suitable. Sometimes lectures 
on connected subjects show hardly any difference from 
lectures on particular books. Thus, " Christ in the Old 
Testament " is the title of a long series of discourses by 
the late Dr. Gordon, his principle of selection being that 
of Christology whatever passages seemed designed to 
bring up the Messiah. The late Dr. John Brown gave 
lectures on the sayings of our Lord. On the other 
hand, Dr. Goulburn s well-known treatise on Personal 
Religion is in reality a series of lectures bearing on one 
subject, but the texts are selected from various places. 

Another mode of exposition, " the running com 
mentary," is sometimes made use of when a chapter is 
read for general instruction. Twice over, in his ministry 
at Chester, Matthew Henry in this way read and com 
mented on the whole Scriptures. It is apparently a 



very simple thing, and yet to be well done it requires 
no little tact, neatness, and force. The object is to aid 
the hearer in perceiving the drift of the passage, and 
to link it on here and there to his heart and con 
science, to aid him in making the application of it to 
his own circumstances and character. It is a mode of 
treatment that cannot so well be applied to the denser 
portions of Scripture ; it is more appropriate to the 
narrative parts. It wonderfully freshens the reading 
of a chapter when a few appropriate remarks are made 
here and there, either clearing the meaning or pointing 
the application. But it ought not to supersede the 
devout, uninterrupted, authoritative reading of the Holy 
Scriptures, as the Word of the living God, not depend 
ing on man s commentary or man s application, but 
itself appealing both to the understanding and the heart. 
In our zeal to edify we must take care lest we reverse 
the rule of Chrysostom, that God should speak much 
and man little. 

There is still another species of expository discourse 
very rarely to be met with, but fitted to be most useful. 
It is common to preach on a single verse, or on a half- 
dozen or a dozen of consecutive verses, or even on a 
whole psalm or chapter. But why should not dis 
courses sometimes be delivered on a whole book ? Why 
should not a minister do in the pulpit what the late 
Dean Alford, Dr. Eraser, and others, have very usefully 
done through the press explain to his people the drift 
and purpose of a whole book, or group of books, and 
give them such information about them as may serve 
to facilitate their understanding of the whole ? Would 
it not be useful sometimes to hear a lecture on the 
Komans, as a whole, or the Hebrews, or the Apocalypse ? 
It may be objected that it is difficult to combine with 


this what is especially characteristic of an oratorical dis 
course. A lecture of this sort, it is thought, must be 
almost wholly an address to the understanding. The 
hearers can have but little to rouse their consciences, to 
warm their feelings, to quicken their efforts after holi 
ness, or to give them an impulse heavenward. But 
why should it be so ? Why but through some neglect 
or carelessness of the preacher ? For surely there must 
be a great defect in the preacher if he set forth the 
scope and bearing of any book of Scripture without 
finding material for spiritual counsels or appeals. If, 
instead of gathering up the materials for impression, as 
they are found in small sections of the sacred books, 
one could extract the great lesson of the whole writing, 
and bring it to bear on men s hearts and consciences, 
instead of the impression being feebler, might we not 
reasonably expect that it should be greatly stronger ? 

With reference to expository discourses of all kinds, 
it is no doubt true that they afford less scope for ora 
tory, and tie down the preacher more to a prescribed 
line of thought, than the ordinary sermon. But the 
time has not gone past when Christian preachers may 
be found who esteem it no drawback to have their 
message blocked out for them by the inspired writers, 
and who are willing to sacrifice something of the ora 
torical for the sake of the useful. The faithful exposi 
tion of Scripture was certainly the great business of the 
ministry in the early ages of the Christian Church, and 
those who strive to bring us back to primitive church 
usages could restore nothing more profitable. But the 
combination of the expository lecture and the ordinary 
sermon is the very best provision that can be made for 
the edification of congregations. The flock is led out to 


the green pastures and still waters of the Word ; while 
at the same time the preacher has constant opportunities 
of placing the great points of faith and practice in every 
variety of light, and pressing them on the attention of 
his people with every consideration that the character 
of the age or the circumstances of the flock may make 
it desirable to press into the service. 



THE merits and the demerits of the three different 
methods of delivering discourses from the pulpit, namely 
reading, reciting from memory, and extemporizing, have 
often been discussed during the last two centuries. In 
a closely printed appendix of twenty-five pages sub 
joined to Dr. Kidder s treatise on Homiletics (p. 351, 
English edition), we have a summary of opinions on 
the subject, pro and con., beginning with Bishop Burnet, 
and coming down to the more eminent preachers of the 
present time. 

In the first age of the Church, sermons do not 
appear to have been written, far less read. The preachers 
of the first three centuries, though doubtless they may 
have availed themselves of the aids which help to give 
force and finish to extemporaneous addresses, do not 
appear to have committed their sermons to writing 
beforehand. About the time of Origen, we hear of 
shorthand writers (ogvypdfoi), men licensed by autho 
rity who were employed in taking down public ad 
dresses, and who were expected to submit their manu 
scripts to the preacher before publication. Some of the 
discourses of the early preachers contain passages that 
seem to have been introduced on the spur of the 


moment, and that indicate the possession of a faculty 
of no small value the power of turning to account 
slight passing events, and building on them suitable 
exhortations. One of Chrysostom s sermons on Genesis 
contains an extemporized passage suggested by the cir 
cumstance that, while the lamps in the building were 
being lit, the eyes of the people were following the 
lamplighter in place of the preacher " Let me beg you 
to arouse yourselves, and to put away that sluggishness 
of mind. But why do I say this ? At the very time 
when I am setting forth before you the Scriptures, you 
are turning your eyes away from me, and fixing them 
on the lamps, and upon the man who is lighting the 
lamps. Oh, of what a sluggish soul is this the mark, to 
leave the preacher and turn to him ! I too am kindling 
the fire of the Scriptures, and upon my tongue there is 
burning a taper, the taper of sound doctrine. Greater 
is this light and better than the light that is yonder. 
For unlike that man, it is no wick steeped in oil that I 
am lighting up. I am rather inflaming souls, moistened 
with piety, by the desire of heavenly discourse." 

Some critics will probably doubt whether this often 
quoted passage from Chrysostom was purely ex tempore, 
or was not the result of premeditation. But there can 
be no doubt that this celebrated preacher did not usually 
write his sermons, since it was his habit, at certain 
times, to preach every day. In regard to Augustine, 
too, there can be little doubt that he dealt largely in 
the extemporaneous method, for he sometimes told his 
audience that when he entered the pulpit he meant to 
pass over certain topics on which, nevertheless, he felt 
it his duty to enlarge. Yet we cannot suppose that all 
those wonderfully concise instances of antithesis and 
alliteration which stud the Homilies of Augustine, were 


entirely unpremeditated. Nor can there be much doubt 
that during that brilliant period when so many men 
that had studied rhetoric in the schools became Chris 
tian preachers, they were not content to trust them 
selves to extemporaneous speech. We are told of 
Cyril of Alexandria, that some of his homilies were 
committed to memory by Greek bishops as models of 
Christian declamation. Augustine excuses those whose 
preaching ability was but slender for committing other 
men s discourses to memory, and reciting them to their 
flocks ; though for his part, he knew a more excellent 
way, and strongly urges the preacher " to read in the 
eyes and countenances of his hearers whether or not they 
understand him, and to repeat the same thing in differ 
ent terms till he perceives that it is understood; an 
advantage which those cannot have who by a servile 
dependence on their memories learri their sermons by 
heart, and repeat them like so many lessons." 

The practice of reading sermons from a manuscript 
does not seem to have been practised till after the 
Reformation, nor to have ever prevailed extensively in 
any other language than the English. Bishop Burnet 
traces the practice to the fewness of qualified preachers 
in England after the Eeformation, and the necessity of 
getting the people instructed in religious truth by the 
best means that were available. The book of Homilies 
was accordingly prepared, and these were appointed to 
be read to congregations one by one by some qualified 
reader. The practice of reading sermons from manu 
script would very naturally in process of time grow out 
of this arrangement. But it was not a practice that 
met with approval either from the people or from the 
authorities. In 1674, during the reign of Charles IL, 
a royal decree was published against the custom, ad- 


dressed to the Vice-Chancellor of the university of Cam 
bridge : "Whereas his majesty is informed that the 
practice of reading sermons is generally taken up by 
the preachers before the University, and is continued 
even before himself, his majesty hath commanded me 
to signify to you his pleasure that the said practice, 
which took beginning with the disorders of the late 
times, be wholly laid aside ; and that the aforesaid 
preachers deliver their sermons, both in Latin and Eng 
lish, by memory, or without book, as being a way of 
preaching which his majesty judgeth most agreeable to 
the use of all foreign churches, to the custom of the uni 
versity heretofore, and to the nature and intendment of 
that holy exercise. And that his majesty s commands 
in the premises may be duly regarded and observed, 
his further pleasure is, that the names of all such 
ecclesiastical persons as shall continue the present 
supine and slothful way of preaching be from time to 
time signified to me by the vice-chancellor, for the 
time being, upon pain of his majesty s displeasure. 

In spite of the royal decree the practice of reading 
continued to hold its ground in England. In the eigh 
teenth century the prevalent coldness and formality of 
the time encouraged it, until the older method, sanc 
tioned though it was by the example of all Christian 
antiquity, came to be counted a token of fanaticism. 
So rigorous did the rule become, that what is now called 
slavish reading was the only style of delivery counted 
proper in a gentlemanly preacher ; and it is said of a 
clergyman of this class that on one occasion he seriously 
compromised his character because he ventured to raise 
his eyes from his manuscript during the reading of his 
sermoa ^fhe practice of reading the published sermons 



of the most eminent preachers, which in the Spec 
tator obtained the commendation of Sir Eoger de 
Coverley, was a natural consequence of this state of 
things. Then followed the practice of clergymen bor 
rowing sermons from one another, and the still more 
handy custom of lithographed sermons sold at so much 
the dozen. Under such practices it need not be said 
that the pulpit suffered fearfully. Congregations that 
groaned under its dulness and lifelessness might be ex 
cused for making the most of the ludicrous incidents 
that sometimes occurred, as when a preacher once sur 
prised a quiet country congregation by mysterious allu 
sions to the late terrible catastrophe, and it turned out 
that the sermon which he had read had been prepared 
several years before on the occasion of the earthquake 
at Lisbon. The worst of these practices was, that the 
chief purpose for which the Head of the Church had 
organized a living ministry was entirely lost ; instead 
of the truth falling with a deeper impression by coming 
warm from the hearts of men who felt it, and by being 
skilfully adapted to the circumstances and state of mind 
of the people who heard it, it fell like lumps of lead, 
serving no good end but that of exercising their patience. 
It would be very unfair, however, to represent the style 
of reading introduced by such preachers as correspond 
ing to that which was practised by preachers like 
Jonathan Edwards or Thomas Chalmers ; or to fail to 
give due weight to the conditions under which, but 
not without which, read sermons have not unfrequently 
been the means of much edification. 

Let us endeavour, therefore, deliberately and fairly, 
to consider the relative merits of the different modes of 
delivery, with a view to prepare the way for some prac 
tical counsels. 


1. As to reading sermons. The advantages of this 
method are, that it secures more care in the planning 
and working out of the discourse ; more exactness of 
thought and precision of language ; while it also pro 
tects the preacher from the effects of a nervous or timid 
temperament ; from the danger of losing the thread of 
his discourse, and of giving it out either confusedly 
or hurriedly, or with important omissions, or with alter 
ations that are fatal to the sense. Where the effect of 
the discourse, or of any part of it, is cumulative where 
it depends upon the skilful building up of clause upon 
clause, or paragraph upon paragraph, reading, it is 
alleged, is quite essential to efficiency, unless at the 
expense of an amount of drudgery, in the way of com 
mitting to memory, which absorbs time, consumes ner 
vous energy, and creates a constant anxiety, fatal to 
activity and efficiency in the other departments of the 

On the other hand, it is objected to the practice of 
reading, that a certain monotony and unnaturalness of 
tone are almost inseparable from it ; that the preacher 
cannot, in reading, hold that real and close communica 
tion with the minds and souls of his audience which 
is necessary to their being thoroughly impressed ; that 
the effort to seem to be doing one thing, viz. speaking 
to them, while in reality he is doing another thing, viz. 
reading, must be awkward and enfeebling ; that it is 
extremely difficult for him to have his own heart ex 
ercised in unison with what he is reading ; that where 
vivid emotion has to be expressed, or earnest appeals 
have to be made, the process must be sadly artificial ; 
and that read sermons, however well they may be fitted 
to instruct, cannot be effective in persuading hearers. 

2. The second method of preaching that of reciting 


has accordingly been devised with the view of secur 
ing the advantages, and at the same time remedying 
the evils, of reading. To a certain extent this is accom 
plished. Consecutiveness of thought, exactness and 
even beauty of language, are secured by this method, 
where it is properly carried into practice. But it is 
not so well fitted to secure ease, freedom, naturalness 
in delivery. The difference, as has been remarked, is, 
that the preacher reads from his memory in place of 
reading from his manuscript. The tendency on his part 
is to recite something before the people, rather than 
speak it to them. There is a somewhat similar awk 
wardness as when reading is practised, in seeming to 
be doing one thing speaking, when in reality he is 
doing another thing reciting. Nor is it much easier 
for a man reciting to enter into the feelings proper to 
what he is uttering. What he says is not very likely 
to come out with the freshness and naturalness of a 
working brain and a beating heart. If, in natural 
speaking, the tones of the voice are moulded by the 
molecular movements of the brain and nerves roused 
by the living soul, it follows that when the brain and 
nerves are not so roused, the tones of the voice will 
not be moulded naturally, but artificially. In such a 
case, the organs of speech do not spontaneously express 
the emotion ; if they succeed in expressing it at all, it 
can only be in the way of imitation. In recited ser 
mons, the tendency is rather to imitate the tones of 
emotion, than spontaneously to express them. The 
rule of course is not without exceptions, as we shall 
presently see. With recited sermons there is another 
difficulty : when the memory of the preacher fails him, 
his sole resource is gone. The difficulty and the awk 
wardness are extreme ; there remains hardly an alterna- 


tive but to pull the manuscript from his pocket, and try 
to find the forgotten sentence. 

3. The third method of preaching the extempore 
method embraces many varieties of one species. It 
comprehends all that lies between two extremes the 
practice of the man who chooses his text in the pulpit, 
or very shortly before going up to it, plunging into the 
wide sea without premeditation, and coming to land as 
best he may ; and the practice of the man who, though 
only jotting his thoughts, carefully plans his discourse, 
lays out the trunk-line with great deliberation, arranges 
his thoughts and illustrations in careful order, and even 
bestows some pains on what may be called the joiner- 
work of his sermon, making each part of it fit natur 
ally and readily to the rest. In all ordinary circum 
stances, it is only this last variety, or something near 
to it, that could find acceptance with a conscientious 
extempore preacher. It is impossible to reprobate too 
strongly the adoption of the extempore method on the 
ground that it is the least troublesome that it saves the 
preacher from the drudgery of careful writing, or careful 
thinking. There is little doubt that preachers in remote 
parts of the country, with flocks small and obscure, and 
without the stimulus to mental effort which residence 
in a large and active town involves, are apt to become 
careless in preparation, and to fall into a style of ex 
temporaneous preaching which is so vapid and pointless 
as to bring the pulpit into contempt. Young men, 
with all the lively impulses of youth upon them, and 
strong with the generous purpose " to scorn delights 
and live laborious days," are not likely to have any 
tolerance for such a habit. And yet one cannot be 
sure that if the fervour of youth has somewhat abated, 
and the sense of weariness that attends long and 


laborious efforts has begun to come upon you, some of 
you may not be tempted to resort to this as the easier 
method. Country life is often not very favourable to 
the sustained habits of mental exertion, which, under 
any plan whatever, are unquestionably indispensable 
not merely to an efficient, but even to a conscientious 

Of such extempore preaching as can thus alone be 
regarded as admissible, the great advantage is the 
facility which it gives for freshness and naturalness of 
delivery, for arresting and maintaining the attention 
of the audience, for enabling the speaker to speak what 
he feels, and to feel what he speaks, and thus, with 
God s help, carry his hearers with him, through all the 
varieties of thought and feeling to which he may give 
expression in his discourse. " Of such a speaker," says 
M. Bautain, 1 " the language will be more forcible and 
brilliant, more real and more apposite. Originating 
with the occasion, and at the very moment, it will bear 
more closely on the subject, and strike with greater 
force and precision. His words will be warmer, from 
their freshness ; they will in this manner communicate 
increased fervour to the audience, and will have all the 
energy of an instantaneous effort. The vitality of 
thought is singularly stimulated by this necessity of 
instantaneous production, by this actual necessity of 
self-expression, and of communication to other minds." 
It has the advantage, moreover, of not rigidly confining 
the preacher to what has been premeditated, but allow 
ing him, like Chrysostom, to introduce remarks in the 
literal sense ex tempore, thoughts which may either be 
flashed into his mind with unusual vividness under the 

1 The Art of Extempore Speaking. By M. Bautain, Vicar-General 
and Professor of the Sorbonne. 1867. 


excitement of preaching, or which may be suggested by 
what goes on at the time. Undoubtedly, a preacher 
presents himself to an audience under a great advan 
tage, when he stands up to speak to them to enter into 
that friendly relation which speaking implies. There 
is something in this, when modestly and respectfully 
done, that bespeaks their favourable consideration 
unless their consciences shrink from plain faithful 
dealing ; or unless their pride disdains the compulsion 
to listen; or unless a painful experience of that mode 
of preaching compels them to anticipate a mere out 
pouring of vapour, instead of a rich and solid repast. 

In holding the balance between these several modes 
of preaching, or in trying to decide whether there be 
any way of combining the advantages of them all, some 
consideration requires to be had (1) of the temperament 
of individual preachers ; (2) of the nature of the subject; 
and (3) of the nature of the audience and the occasion. 

(1.) In regard to individual temperament. There 
may, in individuals, be qualities of temperament that 
divest the reading of sermons of the faults that are 
commonly associated with it. There may be unusual 
animation of spirit and of voice, and unusual emotional 
susceptibility, so that the feelings of the speaker cannot 
but go along with the thoughts expressed in the dis 
course, his whole machinery, so to speak, being set 
in motion together. If to this gift of temperament 
there be added remarkable thinking power, and remark 
able power of illustration and application, a read dis 
course, instead of being from that circumstance subject 
to drawbacks, will be an extraordinary treat. Such, 
emphatically, was the case with Chalmers, and such is 
the case, too, with other preachers that could be named. 
As the countrywoman said of Chalmers, his was fell 


reading. The case of Chalmers was the more remark 
able that the range of his emotion was so wide, and 
its intensity so great. There are instances of preachers, 
however, with a smaller range, and a lower tone of 
emotion, to whose temperament reading is suitable, 
because, as they read, the emotion which they are wont 
to express is readily roused in them. Perhaps we may 
say that Jonathan Edwards was a man of this type. 
He had neither the blazing impetuosity nor the wide 
range of Chalmers. But under his calm self-possessed 
manner lay a deep fountain of feeling, and it welled 
out calmly but powerfully with his favourite subjects 
of preaching. In general, for read sermons, three things 
may be laid down as absolutely indispensable : first, 
lively tones of voice ; second, vigorous style ; and third, 
interesting and rousing thoughts. If the preacher have 
a monotonous voice and a heavy style, if his thoughts 
are commonplace, and withal the sermon is long, it is 
no wonder if in popular estimation a read sermon 
becomes a synonym for dulness, a tax on the patience, 
and a temptation to sleep. 

Again, there are temperaments to which the method 
of reciting seems well adapted. Such temperaments 
are not uncommon in France. The habitual liveliness of 
the French character, and the great amount of gesticula 
tion with which the French speak, put the practice of 
reading sermons hors de combat in that country. On 
the other hand, their fondness for pointed, brilliant, 
epigrammatic diction, makes French orators unwilling 
to trust themselves to extemporaneous utterance. Eeci- 
tation, therefore, has been the usual practice of the 
great French preachers. And for the most part, they 
seem to have been able to do what is so difficult for 
English preachers, throw their soul into their recited 


sermons, feel intensely as they went along. But even 
they were not beyond that sense of bondage which is 
so apt to prevail when success depends on the memory. 
" Which was the best sermon you ever preached ?" 
some one once asked of Massillon. "That which I 
knew the best," was the significant reply. Bourdaloue, 
whose memory was less to be trusted, felt himself com 
pelled to fall in with the practice ; although, it is said, 
afraid lest the sight of the congregation should make 
him forget his lesson, he was compelled to preach with 
closed eyes. At the present day, however, a strong 
feeling has begun to prevail in France in favour of 
more extemporaneous preaching. Adolphe Monod 
urged it as being the best, when the speaker had a 
natural facility and was well prepared ; without the 
last, he said, it was the worst of all methods, both for 
matter and for form. And in the work recently pub 
lished by M. Bautain, Vicar-General and Professor at 
the Sorbonne, the adoption of the practice is urged 
strongly on the whole Eoman Catholic clergy. 

There are other temperaments, again, to which the 
extemporaneous method is the best adapted. Such, for 
example, was Eobert Hall. Finical though he was 
about his language, he never wrote his sermons, and 
even the finest of them were elaborated mentally, while 
he lay on his back, the attitude in which physical 
infirmity compelled him to study. When the proof- 
sheets of his celebrated sermon on Modern Infidelity 
were submitted to him, and he came to the apostrophe, 
" Eternal God, on what are thine enemies intent ? 
What are those enterprises of guilt and horror, that 
for the safety of their performers, require to be en 
veloped in a darkness which the eye of heaven must 
not penetrate ! " he asked, " did I say penetrate, Sir, 


when I preached it ? Be so good as take your pencil, 
and for penetrate put pierce ; no man who considered 
the force of the English language would use a word of 
three syllables there, but from absolute necessity. 
Pierce is the word, Sir, and the only word to be used 
there." A faculty of grasping a subject in its several 
dimensions and relations, a facility in making one s 
thoughts fall into clear order, and into plain language, 
coupled with a power of deliberation and self-possession, 
are indispensable to good extemporaneous preaching. 
Such are, to a large degree, the gifts of Mr. Spurgeon, 
whose sermons, though unwritten, exhibit a remarkable 
power of clear thought and forcible expression within 
the mental range in which he feels himself at home. 
Men who are apt to lose self-possession, whose mental 
organs seem to be struck with paralysis when they 
face an audience, and who are apt to flounder from 
topic to topic without doing justice to any, are not 
likely ever to feel at home with this method. And yet 
even in such cases, it is very wonderful what expert- 
ness may come of beginning early, and persevering 
steadily. As the Latin proverb says, Fit fabricando 
faber. Some of the most striking instances of failure 
in the attempt to preach extemporaneously have been 
in the case of preachers who had long been accustomed 
to another method. The "great clerks" that Shake 
speare tells us have been seen to 

" Shiver and look pale, 
Make periods in the midst of sentences ; 
Throttle their practised accents in their fear, 
And in conclusion dumbly have broke off," 

were probably accustomed to a different mode. Bishop 
Sanderson is said to have made an attempt before a 
village audience, that turned out a most mortifying and 



humbling failure. Tillotson once tried his powers in 
the same way, and after beating and buffeting about 
for nearly ten minutes, brought his discourse to a close, 
declaring that nothing would induce him to make the 
attempt again. And South, who was in the habit of 
committing his sermons to memory, on one occasion of 
trusting himself to an extempore attempt, broke down 
in the very opening of his sermon, and with the ex 
clamation, " Lord, be merciful to our infirmities," rushed 
abruptly from the pulpit. 1 Such failures, however, 
would probably not have occurred, and would certainly 
not have been so complete, had the method not been 
new to the preachers, and a great contrast to what they 
were accustomed to. 

(2.) When we consider the subjects of sermons, as 
determining the right method of delivery, it becomes 
clear that writing and reading is the method best 
adapted to some. Such sermons, for example, as those 
of Bishop Butler, would never have seen the light as 
sermons, if the ordinance of King Charles n. had been 
rigidly enforced. But were they sermons ? Are they 
not rather theological treatises ? A preacher may some 
times see it his duty to go profoundly into certain 
subjects, in order to carry his people up to the higher 
reaches of Christian intelligence, or to help them to 
understand some of the more difficult aspects of divine 
truth. But if the practice of reading were wholly pro 
scribed, such efforts would have to be abandoned. On 
other occasions a preacher may feel that he needs to 
use great discrimination and delicacy of language. He 
may find occasion to deal with forms of vice, all allusion 
to which is embarrassing before an audience embracing 
men, women, and children. Or he may have occasion 

1 Moore, p. 278, from Quarterly Review, cii. 491. 


to delineate some type of character belonging to some 
of his people, and requiring to be sketched both 
delicately and truthfully. Or he may be treacling on 
some of those narrow ledges of truth, navigating some 
narrow strait, as it were, between a Scylla and a 
Charybdis, where he requires to be careful of every 
word, lest a false conception be conveyed. It would be 
hard to say that such topics are to be proscribed, as in 
most cases they virtually would be, if reading from a 
manuscript were to be totally banished. 

(3.) In regard to audiences, it may happen that when 
the congregation is made up chiefly of professional men, 
or of persons to whom the habit of attention is easy 
and common, a read discourse will be the most suitable. 
But if read, it must be well read, and good reading 
implies much practice and care ; so that if one who has 
never practised reading should on some sudden occasion 
take to it, the likelihood is that the attempt would be 
a failure. 

To come now to the practical question, What 
method of preaching ought to be adopted by the young 
ministers of our day ? 

First, in regard to the preparation of sermons : the 
advice which used to be given by Dr. Chalmers is that 
which we would humbly reiterate. Let every minister 
write out fully one discourse in the week, and let him 
preach another, extempore, or from notes more or less 
full. The habit of writing out one discourse, at least 
during twenty years of one s ministry, is attended with 
very many advantages. It disciplines one s own mind ; 
it ties one down by the conscience to at least one 
piece of thorough work ; it accustoms one to exact 
ness of thinking and writing; it gives one the op 
portunity of deliberately examining one s work, and 


of making systematic and continuous efforts to im 
prove it. 

While thus giving heed to writing, the young preacher 
will do well to accustom himself to deliver one dis 
course also from less elaborate preparation. That dis 
course, I need not say, will not be an extempore effort, 
pure and simple. The subject will be carefully studied 
as in the presence of his Master; the plan will be 
systematically formed ; the course of thought firmly 
grasped, the illustrations and applications considered 
and arranged ; and the transitions from point to point 
so managed as to give unity to the whole, and save the 
discourse from the character of a mere bundle of observa 
tions. How much of this will be written is a question 
of detail, not to be settled by another. Besides urging 
his students to cultivate both these modes of preaching, 
it was the advice of Chalmers that once a month, or at 
some such interval, they should prepare a more than 
usually elaborate discourse on some topic of deep in 
terest like his own on the Efficacy of Prayer and 
the Uniformity of Nature or M Laurin s Glorying in 
the Cross of Christ, or Jonathan Edwards s on Justifica 
tion by Faith. He thought it good for the preacher 
and good for the flock to have to rise occasionally to 
the higher levels. 

But when one discourse has been written and another 
sketched, how are they to be delivered ? Is the written 
one to be read, or committed to memory, or is an 
abstract of it to be made, and notes made use of in the 
pulpit, similar to those which form the preparation for 
the more extempore discourse? To these questions 
the remarks already made on the several varieties of 
cases will furnish materials for the answer. In every 
case the preacher is bound to decide the matter as in 


the presence of his Master, and as one lying under the 
most solemn obligations to present the truth in the 
most impressive form, and with the largest amount of 
persuasive power. Be his method what it may, his 
business is to deliver his message, and the right force of 
that word must never be evaded. Ask the soldier what 
is meant by the delivery of a charge ask the merchant 
what is meant by the delivery of a piece of merchandise 
ask even the letter-carrier what is meant by the de 
livery of a letter : all will tell you that the thing in 
question must be lodged in the persons, or in the pre 
mises of those for whom it is designed. The true delivery 
of a sermon, in like manner, means lodging it in the 
heads and hearts of the audience. There are always two 
factors in the process first, the clear presentation of 
the truth, and, second, the dynamical force sending it 
home. For efficacy, both depend and both depend alike 
on a heavenly power. But as no intelligent preacher 
dreams that, since it is the office of the Holy Spirit to 
enlighten, it matters not whether the truth be presented 
by him clearly or confusedly ; so no intelligent preacher 
dreams that, because it is the office of the Holy Spirit 
to apply truth savingly, he needs not to take any pains 
to make his message telling. The best preacher is he 
who combines both, and in both seeks to be an instru 
ment in the Spirit s hands. 

In general we may say, that in proportion to the 
hold which the preacher has of his subject, or, better 
still, his subject of him, will be his hold on his hearers. 
If he holds the truth feebly, his power over his audience 
will be feeble ; if he holds it firmly, and, still more, if 
he is possessed by it almost to the verge of enthusiasm, 
he will speak like one having authority, and his word 
will be with power. The more that his own soul is 


exercised by the truth on which he prepares during the 
week to discourse, the more powerfully (other things 
being equal) will he be sure to preach. In order that 
his soul may be duly moved, and in order that he may 
get the right tone and spirit, let him ever, as he is pre 
paring, have his audience before him ; let him remember 
the utter deadness and worldliness of one section, the 
gross temptations of another, and the tremendous forces 
with which the devil, the world, and the flesh are ever 
opposing him and his work. Let him remember that 
the time which he occupies on the Lord s Day is the one 
golden hour of the week when the sin -driven and world- 
worn sinner is to get his glimpse of heaven, and to be 
plied with the truths that, if he is ever to be saved, must 
bear down the strongest tendencies of his carnal heart. 
There, in your audience, is a young man exposed all 
the week to the sneers, and to the profane and filthy 
language, of the other occupants of the counting-room ; 
yonder is a young woman persecuted by her family for 
her earnest efforts to serve the Lord ; there you have a 
working man driven the whole week in rough employ 
ments that develop little more than his animal nature ; 
yonder a mother heart-broken for her profligate husband 
or her reckless son ; there a student beset with sceptical 
doubts ; yonder a merchant haunted by the spectre of 
bankruptcy. Oh, what an art it is to arrest the atten 
tion of them all, and pour into their souls the living 
water, of which he that drinks shall never thirst again ! 
What a prayerful habit would the preacher need to have 
while brooding over his sermon, as well as on the eve 
of its delivery ! What power is needed to accompany 
every sentence, that it may be truly an engine for open 
ing men s eyes, and for turning them from darkness to 
light, and from the power of Satan unto God ! 



THE subject of pulpit elocution, or, more properly, the 
right management of voice, gesture, and look in preach 
ing, may seem to some a sorry and trifling one to be 
introduced in a course of theological instruction ; but a 
very slight consideration of some of the bearings of the 
subject will be enough to dissipate such an impression. 
The principle laid down by our Lord in his memorable 
command to the disciples after the miracle of the loaves 
and fishes, to gather up the fragments that remained, 
that nothing might be lost, brings within the range of 
duty many things that might otherwise be ranked with 
trifles. A Christian conscience thoroughly disciplined 
will be careful to gather up every fragment of influence, 
seeing that the object is not to supply the body with 
the bread that perisheth, but immortal souls with the 
bread of life. Can it be maintained that no fragments 
of influence are ever lost in respect of inefficient manage 
ment of the voice, the gesture, and the countenance in 
the pulpit ? It is said that the poet Thomson was once 
reading to a friend a part of The Seasons in his usual 
slovenly way, when his friend snatched the manuscript 
from his hands, declaring that he could not bear to hear 
good poetry so shamefully murdered. Was no such 


murder ever committed in the pulpit? Was no ad 
mirable discourse, faultless in conception and composi 
tion, ever presented to a congregation in the condition 
of Hector s body, after it had been dragged round the 
walls of Troy ? Is there no ground for one of the ques 
tions asked by Bishop Berkeley in his Querist, " Whether 
half the learning and study of these kingdoms is not 
useless for want of a proper delivery and pronunciation 
being taught in our schools and colleges ? " It may be 
doubted whether the evil is ascribed wholly to the right 
cause, or whether teaching a proper delivery and elocu 
tion in our schools and colleges would altogether remedy 
it, but that there is a vast amount of remediable ineffi 
ciency in the pulpit, through defective or vicious deli 
very, is a fact that cannot be questioned. It may be 
true that manner is but of secondary importance ; but 
it is equally true that it is of some importance, nay, as 
the world goes, of great importance. What Demosthenes 
said of action, or rather of delivery, has passed into a 
household word, that it was the first, and the second, 
and the third essential of true oratory. We may not be 
disposed to estimate it so high ; but if any one should 
talk of manner as a thing of no consequence, we would 
ask him, Is there such absolute power in good and well- 
composed thoughts, that in expressing them you can 
afford to dispense with the aid of a suitable manner or 
an impressive delivery ? Certainly it is not so in other 
departments. An anecdote is greatly more impressive, 
in common conversation, when it is well told ; the dif 
ference is marvellous when a story comes haltingly and 
helplessly from a stammering tongue, and fluently and 
heartily from one who has the knack of telling it. Is 
there no real loss when solemn thoughts are expressed 
in a sharp, shrill key ? or when matters pertaining to 


everyday life are handled in the most solemn, sepul 
chral tones ? Is monotony no clog to delivery, no 
hindrance to impression ? Is it not sometimes distress 
ing to observe how little men appreciate a substantial 
preacher, whose manner is heavy, compared with a 
superficial one whose manner is attractive and impres 
sive ? Are not men who shine at college for their in 
tellectual gifts like stars of the first magnitude, some 
times outstripped by those of far inferior intellect, but 
possessing a more popular manner ? You say it is the 
fault of the stupid public. And yet we ought not to 
be too hard on the public for its want of appreciation. 
It is more appreciative in its own fashion than is often 
thought. At least it is not slow to appreciate anything 
like life in a preacher, and it is not for the sake of pro 
found intellect, but for the sake of life that our Lord 
has constituted the ministry the chief means of per 
petuating his Church. 

It is never to be forgotten that the ministry has been 
instituted because it is a living agency, and because the 
functions which it has to discharge demand, above every 
thing else, the qualities of life. Had it not been for 
this, it would have been easy to devise a better provi 
sion for the edification of the body of Christ, and the 
other purposes of the Church. For example, without 
any ministry, there might have been a larger Bible, in 
which every man might have found directly all that 
was necessary for his spiritual instruction. Or men 
might have been appointed to collect the best theolo 
gical treatises and the most able discourses, and read 
these to the people. The few great preachers of each 
successive age might thus have been set free to labour 
among the heathen, extending the limits of the Chris 
tian Church. Handfuls of population in remote parts 


of the country might have been provided for, without 
the expensive machinery of a settled ministry. Why 
then has the Head of the Church preferred the method 
of the standing ministry ? Partly, doubtless, that pro 
vision may be made for adapting the form in which the 
truth is presented to the ever-changing necessities of 
times and seasons; but partly also, that when pre 
sented to men, the truth may have all the advantage 
derived from the living heart and living voice, the 
living eye and the living manner, of the person who 
communicates it. He who preaches in a slovenly way 
not merely damages his own reputation, and fails in 
his duty to his congregation, but he compromises the 
wisdom of Christ in the institution of the ministry, and 
especially of the ordinance of preaching ; he makes his 
Master appear to have acted foolishly. It is not merely 
the intellect that should preach, but every organ and 
faculty of the preacher. The voice, the face, the eye, 
the body, the hands, must all (if possible) be pressed 
into the service. As Luther said, there must be the 
"vividus vultus, vividi oculi, vividse manus, denique 
oninia vivida." The pulpit would then vindicate itself, 
and stand in no risk of losing its place and its power amid 
the many rising intellectual instruments of the age. 

Yet let no one fancy for a moment that this state of 
things can be brought about by a complicated array of 
artificial rules for the management of the voice, the 
waving of the arms, the twirling of the fingers, or the 
rolling of the eye. Though it was said truly of Cicero 
that there was eloquence even in the tips of his fingers, 
and of Garrick that by merely moving his elbow he 
could produce an effect that no words could achieve, it 
is not to be recommended to young preachers to move 
their fingers like Cicero, or their elbows like Garrick. 


Artificial rules of this sort are the very bane of the 
pulpit, and the ruin of young preachers. They pro 
duce an affectation and a self -consciousness which, in 
stead of a help, are a great hindrance to efficiency. 
People justly lift up their voices against acting in the 
pulpit against everything that implies that the ser 
mon, and particularly the prayers, are got-up perform 
ances, and not the genuine utterances of the mind and 
soul. 1 

The simple general rule which we are concerned to 
press in reference to manner in the pulpit is be 

1 Goethe shows the difference between genuine production and 
artificial cooking : 

Wagner. " I ve often heard them boast, a preacher 
Might profit with a player for his teacher. 

Faust. Yes, when the preacher is a player, granted 
(As often happens in our modern ways). 

Wagner. Ah \ when one with such love of study s haunted, 
And scarcely sees the world on holidays, 
And takes a spy-glass, as it were, to read it, 
How can one by persuasion hope to lead it ? 

Faust. What you don t feel, you ll never catch by hunting ; 
It must gush out spontaneous from the soul, 
And, with a fresh delight enchanting 
The hearts of all that hear control, 
Sit there for ever ! Thaw your glue-pot 
Blow up your ash-heap to a flame and brew, 
With a dull fire, in your stew-pot 
Of other men s leavings a ragout ! 
Children and apes will gaze delighted 
If their critiques can pleasure impart, 
But never a "heart will be ignited 
Comes not the spark from the speaker s heart. 

Wagner. Delivery makes the orator s success, 
Tho I m still far behindhand, I confess. 

Faust. Seek honest gains, without pretence ! 
Be not a cymbal-tinkling fool ! 
Sound understanding and good sense 
Speak out with little art or rule : 
And when you ve something earnest to utter, 
Why hunt for words in such a flutter ? 
Yes, your discourses that are so refined, 
In which humanity s poor shreds you frizzle, 
Are unrefreshing as the mist and wind 
That thro the withered leaves of autumn whistle." 

FAUST Brooke s translation. 


natural. Feel what you say, and say what you feel, 
and in saying it, say it as you feel it, and let the feeling 
mould your voice, your gesture, and your countenance, 
in the natural way. Simple though this advice is, it is 
not very easy. To some persons the most difficult 
thing in the world is to be natural. The model of a 
perfectly natural manner is to be found, some would 
say rather low down, in a little child. Who has not 
observed the perfect grace, freedom, naturalness, of a 
little child s whole manner ? Its tones of voice are 
exactly adapted to the nature of its remarks ; its eye 
and face are a perfect mirror of its heart ; the move 
ment of its arms, the gesture of its whole body, is free 
and unrestrained. If one would attain a good manner 
in the pulpit, one must in a sense become a little child. 
If the reasons be sought for the faultlessness of a child s 
manner, they are to be found in its guilelessness and 
reality, the transparency of its whole nature, in its free 
dom from acquired habits, in the elasticity and vigour 
of its muscular system, and, last not least, its want of 
self-consciousness. If on the other hand, you ask why 
so many grown persons have an unnatural manner, the 
answer will consist in reversing the conditions just 
enumerated ; it is from want of reality and guileless- 
ness ; from a desire to appear in some way other than 
they are; from indolent habits, muscular stiffness 
(arising from want of physical exercise), and last not 
least, an oppressive self- consciousness. Against all 
such things you must resolutely contend. 

Although no confidence is to be placed in artificial 
rules of manner, yet in order to give nature fair play, it 
becomes necessary to give some directions, chiefly for 
avoiding or correcting faults unconsciously contracted. 
The great object is to give free scope to nature, but for 


this purpose we must remove the bandages and fetters 
that habit has thrown round her. 

To three things in particular it is necessary to at 
tend the voice, the gesture of the body, and the 
expression of the face. 

1. The voice. The rule which requires us to be 
natural is highly necessary in dealing with the voice, 
but not in the sense of forbidding any improvement or 
expansion of its original capacity. On the contrary, 
the cultivation and mastery of the voice is one of the 
most essential things to a good delivery. " The voice," 
says Adolphe Monod, "ought to be exercised fre 
quently and with care. Strive to render your voice at 
once clear, strong, sonorous, and flexible ; nothing but 
practice will accomplish this. Take pains to become 
master of your voice. Whoever succeeds in this will 
discover many resources even in a very poor voice, and 
will achieve wonders with little fatigue. But the greater 
part of preachers are slaves to their voice ; it controls 
them instead of their controlling it. The voice possesses 
wonderful capabilities, but it is a rebellious instrument. 
We ought not to believe that the daily exercises which 
are necessary for controlling it and making it flexible 
do harm to the chest. If they are taken in moderation, 
they will rather strengthen it; hence some skilful 
physicians prescribe singing and reading aloud for 
delicate persons. The time most favourable for these 
exercises is an hour or two after a meal ; the stomach 
ought to be neither too full nor too empty." l 

Of all men engaged in public speaking none needs 
to pay more attention to the culture of the voice than 
the Scottish Presbyterian minister. If it be true 

1 Eloquence Sacre"e ; Discours par Adolphe Monod. (Revue 
Tkeologique, 1841, pp. 278-79). 


generally, " that the Anglo-Saxon race are less gifted 
vocally, have the vocal apparatus naturally in less per 
fection, and artificially in worse order, than any other 
variety of Indo-Europeans," l the remark, we fear, 
must be held to have a special application to Scotch 
men. " As a rule," Mr. Hullah observes, " the English 
voice, if not always of inferior quality, is almost always 
in intensity or capacity inferior to (for instance) the 
Italian, the German, or the Welsh. "No people give 
expression to their thoughts, i.e. utter (not choose) their 
words, so imperfectly and with such an absence of 
charm as our countrymen. To the foreign and unac 
customed ear the English language sounds, as to the 
foreign eye the Welsh language looks, made up of con 
sonants, and these hardly distinguishable from one 
another." North of the Border we cannot be accused 
of so thoroughly neglecting our vowels, but we are apt 
to sound them as if it were a sin to make them liquid 
and musical ; and what we do utter is often in a husky 
or drawling tone. Compared with the Englishman s 
the Scotchman s voice naturally has less of metallic 
ring, compared with the Irishman s less of musical 
fluency, and compared with the American s less of down 
right emphasis, and happily less of the nasal intona 
tion. A theory has been hazarded, that the muscles of 
the lower jaw are more feeble in the Scotchman than in 
the other sections of the family. If it be so, it must 
be because they are less exercised he takes his speak 
ing more easily. When the ventriloquist or the player 
wishes to speak as a typical Scotchman, it is with husky 
voice and muttered tones, a mouth that hardly opens, 
and a jaw that scarcely moves. 

In a church which makes no use of a liturgy, the 

1 The Speaking Voice, by John Hullah, p. 1. 


whole business of edification depends on the voice 
of the officiating minister. If he be not distinctly 
heard, the whole service is a failure. In liturgical 
churches imperfect hearing is aided greatly by the use 
of the prayer-book. In the Presbyterian service there 
is no such aid. Moreover, with the exception of the 
time taken up in singing, the voice of the minister is 
the only sound that is heard from first to last. It 
would really need to be a pleasant one. One of the 
secret but most effectual causes of weariness in church 
is to be found in the roughness, harshness, or monotony 
that sometimes characterizes the preacher s voice. An 
hour and a half is a long time for a child to listen to a 
sound resembling the barking of a dog, the croaking of 
a raven, the cooing of a wood-pigeon, or the rasping of a 
corn-crake. 1 On the other hand, a voice of good quality 
and compass is an element of enjoyment, and obviates 
the rise of a craving for artificial embellishments of 
of worship. And still further, on another ground, viz., 
the preacher s own health and comfort, the cultivation 
and expansion of the vocal organs is of high importance. 
The undue straining of these organs is apt to produce 
what is popularly known as the morbus clericus, or 
minister s throat, a disorder which usually requires for 
its cure a long suspension of labour, and entails much 
anxiety, the loss of perhaps a year of the best part of 
ministerial life, and no small inconvenience and ex 
pense. Even where no disease is gendered, the fight 
in the pulpit with a feeble voice produces a discomfort 

1 Even a superior voice is apt to become weaiisome when unre 
lieved for a long time. Revival preachers resort to the device of 
singing a hymn, as a solo, in the middle of the sermon. I have ob 
served that even one of our finest lady readers of Shakespeare, in 
reading Hamlet, greatly relieved and enlivened the reading by 
singing the little lyrical pieces that occur here and there. 


resembling that which attends the fight of a traveller 
with a blustering wind. It produces, too, a self-con 
sciousness, a painful tendency to think about himself, 
when his mind should be filled with his subject. On 
the other hand, where the voice is easy and efficient, 
and readily obeys all the movements of the preacher s 
heart and mind, his own enjoyment in the exercise is 
so much the greater, and, ceteris paribus, the efficiency 
of his ministrations is so much increased. 

Some of the false modes of speaking into which 
preachers have been apt to fall arise from over-strain 
ing, while others arise from nervousness, or from an 
affectation to appear different from what they are. The 
falsetto tone, the high key in which some preachers 
speak, is probably due to overstraining, the habit b$ing 
formed of confining themselves to the one note which 
penetrates furthest, and is most distinctly heard. The 
oratorical roll which others affect, is in some cases the 
result of the idea that it is dignified and impressive, 
and in other cases it arises from nervousness and 
timidity ; it is a sort of protection to a timid man. It 
enables him to keep at a certain distance from the 
people, though this, of course, just diminishes his 
efficiency. Another false tone, a sort of persuasive 
whine, arises from an overstraining after simplicity and 
affectionateness, and sometimes it is the result of imi 
tation. In many cases all these unnatural modes of 
speaking are the effect of unreality, the words not 
coming from the heart, or at least not coming from 
a heart exercised at the time in accordance with 
the words. Undoubtedly, this unreality is one of 
the greatest enemies of efficiency in the pulpit ; nor 
could any motto be suggested more thoroughly useful 
and appropriate to guide the young preacher than 


the Apostle s words " We believe, therefore have we 

For remedying these and similar evils, much heed 
should be taken to the starting words of a discourse. 
In preparing the sermon, as the preacher is settling 
what the first words of it ought to be, it may be useful 
for him to consider whether they are thoroughly real, 
whether he will be able to speak these words to the 
people, and not merely to deliver them before them. 
Will he be able to enter their minds with them, will 
they establish a real communication between his mind 
and theirs ? He must begin, as much as possible on 
the ordinary key of his voice the bell-note, as it is 
sometimes called, rising and falling from it, as the 
occasion may require. By this means, his voice is less 
likely to become unmanageable; he will be able to 
preserve its natural inflections, to the great saving of 
his own strength, and the great advantage of his hearers. 
While thus striving to be real and natural, and to get 
as near to his audience as possible, he will be kept from 
unsuitable familiarity of tone or manner by remember 
ing that he is the ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and that he is speaking of the most important things 
that can engage the attention of immortal men. 

In the details included in the due management of the 
voice, there is none of more importance than distinctness 
of articulation. Very many young preachers err in 
fancying that loudness is the quality most necessary in 
order to their being heard, whereas loudness is far 
inferior to distinctness. In order to distinctness, the 
habit of running many words together must be avoided, 
and the endeavour made to give to every syllable, and as 
far as possible to every letter, its own proper sound. Of 
course, the habit of distinct articulation may be carried 



the length of a poor pedantry, and there may be such a 
conspicuous effort after this, as to defeat its own end, 
by drawing attention not to what the speaker is saying, 
but to the way in which he is saying it. But here we 
may again listen to the practical counsels of the late 
Adolphe Monod, whose eminence both as a preacher 
and as a man of the highest spirituality of character, 
gives him a special claim to our attention. 

" You must learn," he says, " to give to each vowel 
the sound which belongs to it, and to make for each 
consonant the appropriate movement. This latter point 
is the more important of the two. If the purity of the 
vowel sounds contributes much to the beauty of speak 
ing, it is mainly the articulation of the consonants that 
gives it distinctness, vigour, and expression. One who 
articulates distinctly can be heard a long way off with 
out shouting, and even without sounding the vowels 
much ; and this is the method to which actors have 
recourse on the stage when representing the under 
tones of persons dying ; they lay stress on the conson 
ants and suppress the vowel sounds. But he who 
articulates indistinctly will never be heard at a distance, 
and in making his vowels emphatic, he will only add 
to the confusion." We have here the explanation of 
what is often regarded as a mystery by many of our 
people preachers with powerful voices being less dis 
tinctly heard in large buildings than men with feebler 
pipe, but more deliberate articulation. The only thing 
that it seems necessary to add to Mr. Monod s instruc 
tions on this point is, that special respect ought to be 
paid to the last letter of every word, on the principle 
that if you do justice to it, you are likely to do justice 
to all that go before it. But no one should begin to 
practise such rules as these in the pulpit. They should 


be mastered in youth, in the course of those practisings 
and rehearsings which ought to precede pulpit efforts, 
so that by the time the pulpit is reached, they may have 
become a second nature, neither giving trouble to the 
preacher, nor diverting the attention of the hearer. 

On the subject of conventional pronunciation it may 
be well to say a few words. There is no subject that 
more thoroughly defies rule than the pronunciation of 
the English language, and yet there is hardly any to 
which the public speaker has more need to attend. 
In Scotland, we are blamed for our broadness, while in 
England the tendency is to elide important letters for 
the sake of smoothness. If on this side the border we 
sometimes give the sound of four r s instead of one, on 
the other they often give the sound of none. In Eng 
land, the tendency to smoothness has gradually effected 
a revolution in the pronunciation of the language. 
Shakespeare, it is said by those who have investigated 
the subject, would hardly know his own plays if he 
heard them recited with the pronunciation of the pre 
sent day. The gh which is now so uniformly omitted 
in the middle of words was sounded then, and in such 
words as mighty, almighty (pronounced somewhat like 
michty, almichty, but with a deeper guttural), they 
contributed to increase the force of the word. The 
Admirable Crichton would not recognise his name now 
in the smooth form which it has assumed. There is 
no need therefore for our being in haste to adopt the 
smoothness which has become so fashionable. What 
we have more need to do, is to find out and correct 
our more glaring and undeniable faults. We uncon 
sciously fall into vicious and ludicrous errors of pro 
nunciation without being aware of it. We substitute 
one vowel for another without a dream of the change. 


We fail to give their due force to double letters, or we 
make double letters instead of single, or we sound 
simple vowels as diphthongs saying iver for ever, ind 
for and, sawbath for sabbath, grawmar for grammar, 
daith for death, mirracle for miracle, and so on. Small 
though such points are, they are the little things that 
make the difference between a pronunciation which for 
ever grates on the cultivated ear, and that which drops 
on it pleasantly. We lose nothing by being correct on 
such points, and there can be little doubt as to what is 
right in such cases ; it is that which is closer to the 
spelling of the words, and to the ordinary force of the 
letters ; while the mispronunciations that prevail may 
be traced, either to carelessness, or to want of musical 
ear, or to provincial habits. On the other hand, there 
are many peculiarities of fashionable pronunciation 
that deviate from the natural and normal sound of the 
letters, and which are therefore to be regarded with 
suspicion. But the details on such points are obviously 
to be learned from the elocution class, and the pro 
nouncing dictionary. 

Another point of much importance in speaking is 
that of respiration. When the lungs are well filled at 
the beginning of each sentence, the words come out 
both more easily and more distinctly, being floated out 
as it were on a current of air, instead of squeezed out 
by sheer muscular force. In such a case, too, the busi 
ness of public speaking is far less fatiguing. All that 
is necessary is to get into a habit of inflating the lungs 
during the momentary pauses in speaking. It is a 
simple rule, but one that carries very large results. As 
Monod points out, it corrects an error as serious as it is 
common, of letting the voice droop at the end of a 
sentence. " This is the abuse of a rule which nature 


indicates. It is natural to let the voice fall quickly 
the moment of finishing a clause, at least in most cases ; 
for there are some thoughts that require the voice to 
be raised at the end. But some speakers make the 
fall too great, and there are often three or four words at 
the close which are heard with difficulty, or not heard 
at all. As a general rule, the voice must be kept up 
to the end of the sentence, except to make the slight 
fall that denotes the completion of the sense. But for 
this, timely respiration is requisite ; it is the exhaus - 
tion of the lungs that makes the voice droop ; when 
there is no breath in the lungs, there can be no sound 
from the lips." 

2. The next point to which attention has to be called 
is the gesture or action of the body suitable for the 
pulpit. On this, little more can be said than that \ve 
should try to avoid or correct bad habits, and to give 
nature fair play. Let a man s bodily parts be free to 
follow the impulse of his heart, it is not likely that he 
will make the offer of the gospel, as Dr. James Hamilton 
said he had known preachers do, with clenched fists, 
that he will bend over the pulpit in depicting the 
horrors of perdition, or gaze up to the ceiling while 
remonstrating with the erring and the careless. 

Two causes, however, must be mentioned which tend 
to interfere with the free movements of the body in 
correspondence with the emotions of the soul. One is 
muscular stiffness, arising from want of exercise, from 
the sedentary habits that are common in the case of 
students and preachers, and from their not taking much 
part in those games and sports which, accompanied 
though they often are with various evils and drawbacks, 
do certainly give ease, strength, and development to the 
bodily frame. The* other cause of inefficient action is 


timidity. A nervous man is afraid to suit the action 
to the word to raise his arm, or move his body, think 
ing it better not to try it at all, than run the risk of 
doing it badly. But in any case, temperament has 
much to do with action. A man of very still tempera 
ment will find it much more difficult to use action than 
one to whom nature has given great vivacity. To a 
French preacher action is as natural and as indispens 
able as to many a Scotchman it is difficult, if not 
impossible. Yet when the Scotchman listens to the 
Frenchman, and observes how much help he derives in 
keeping hold of his audience from the quick movements 
of his body, the ease and fearlessness with which he 
can throw it into any suitable attitude, the wide com 
pass of his voice, and the elasticity of his countenance, 
he cannot but feel that it is a great disadvantage for 
him to be unable to wield this instrument of impression. 
Where discourses are read from the pulpit, the amount 
of action, in all ordinary cases, must be but small. 
There can be but few Chalmerses, who, though reading 
every word, accompany the discourse with an over 
whelming vehemence. In general, the best counsel as 
to manner for young preachers in this country would 
seem to be, to attempt but little at the beginning, but 
as they gather experience and confidence, try to let 
their soul out more and more through the various 
bodily organs ; looking well to this, that it is the soul 
that works through the body, and not the body that 
merely apes the working of the soul. 

3. We come now to the expression of the face ; on 
which, however, we have little to say. That the face 
may become a very powerful helper to the preacher is 
evident from the fact that in most cases its expression 
is so thoroughly under the influence of the soul. Of 


course, there are great differences here from the pro 
verbially impassive and unchanging countenance of a 
Disraeli, which defies the most skilful physiognomist to 
find in its features the slightest clue to his thoughts or 
feelings ; to those open and transparent faces in which 
the soul is seen in all its varied moods of joy and 
sorrow, hope and fear, disgust and delight. It is not 
to be expected that the defect of nature in this respect 
can altogether be supplied. We know that some 
natures are demonstrative, and some are not. The 
demonstrative are generally the more popular, but not 
always the most trustworthy. But there is no merit in 
being undemonstrative. In the pulpit, on the contrary, 
it is a positive defect. Why should a preacher suppress 
the emotion which is working in his heart, and which 
his words express? Why should he be ashamed to speak 
by his countenance the very thing that he is speak 
ing by his tongue ? Is it more likely that he will be 
believed when one of the organs of expression is silent ? 
A man ought to feel that he is bound in conscience to 
preach with his face as well as with his voice. And 
the people expect it. Why do they always prefer a 
seat where they can have a full view of the preacher ? 
Because they know that if he be what he ought to be, 
it will be an advantage to them to see his face as well 
as to hear his voice. They at least know that nature 
has adapted the eye and the other features for preach 
ing purposes. Sometimes those who hear but indiffer 
ently are able to gather a good deal from watching the 
speaker s face. There is something quite remarkable 
in the way in which some of the features express the 
soul. The eye, for example. What a variety of emo 
tions the eye can appropriately represent ! It sparkles 


with intelligence, flashes with indignation, melts with 
grief, trembles with pity, languishes with love, twinkles 
with humour, starts with amazement, or shrinks \nth 
horror, according to the impulse given to it by the soul 
within. A dog knows from his master s eye whether 
he is about to be caressed or kicked. Gamblers are 
said to be able to judge of the hand of their opponents 
from their eye and countenance. Wild animals, like 
the lion, are said to quail before the steady gaze of a 
fearless man. And God himself uses the eye as the 
symbol of his influence : " I will guide thee with mine 
eye." Why should such an organ not be pressed into 
the service of the pulpit ? Or why should it be 
thought that God s effectual power goes solely with the 
voice, and not with any other organ ? 

It is to be remarked that to those who are not over 
powered by the aspect of a great public assembly, there 
is something in their very appearance, and in their 
eager waiting on the ministrations of the preacher, that 
greatly helps him. Audiences like those gathered in 
St. Paul s or in Westminster Abbey have a wonderfully 
stimulating power. The whole energies work more 
vigorously and more fearlessly ; a sympathy is created 
between the preacher and the audience that imparts a 
power and a pleasure of a kingly order. 

This subject has at least one great practical issue : we 
must feel deeply and truly, if our voice, our face, and 
our manner are to be right. The heart must be the 
prime regulator of all. Emotion must be gendered 
there, and then flow out through tongue, eyes, arms, 
face, and everything. Once more let us hear Adolphe 
Monocl. " The tones of the soul are the tones of nature. 
It is these tones that tend to reproduce themselves. 


The hearer must recognise himself must feel that the 
tones are genuine. For us it is requisite that we speak, 
not declaim. I have said before, Elevate, ennoble the 
tone of conversation and of common life ; but in raising 
it, do not abandon it. An able painter does not slavishly 
copy all the features of his model ; he idealizes them, 
he does not commit them to the canvas without having 
subjected them to a kind of transfiguration under his 
brain ; but by idealizing, he retains so much of them 
that they may be readily recognised, and it is in this 
way that a portrait is a perfect likeness and often more 
beautiful than nature. The process is similar in a good 
delivery. The tones of ordinary life are improved, and 
yet they are easily to be recognised because the essential 
parts of them are carefully preserved. But to declaim 
to assume a new tone because you have entered a pulpit, 
to speak, in short, as people never speak, is a great fault, 
and, what is very singular, a very common one, and hard 
to conquer, and never perhaps to be altogether eradi 
cated. It is because it is easier to keep the tone sus 
tained and always equal than to follow step by step the 
thought and the feeling in their endless changes, and 
because one is never without some hearers of bad taste, 
who are imposed upon by a pompous utterance. Never 
theless, gentlemen, if you consider merely the human 
effect of your preaching, if you don t consider that an 
unworthy point of view, the man who speaks in the 
pulpit will in the end carry the day over the man who 
declaims. Even those hearers who are dazzled by the 
cadences of fine periods and the tricks of the voice yet 
weary in the end, and prefer to the noisy preacher 
one whose tone alone constrains them to feel that he 
thinks all that he says. And what shall I say of the 


difference of real results in the case of the two 
preachers ? How much more surely will the latter 
find the way to the heart and conscience ! How his 
moments of earnestness will be relieved by his calm 
tone and simple ordinary delivery ! How much more 
will he be what he ought to be, before God and before 
man, being himself, and not violating truth in order to 
proclaim truth ! Yes, gentlemen, if you wish to 
reach a worthy, Christian, impressive style of preaching, 
speak always with simplicity. Utter things as you feel. 
Put no more warmth in your utterance than there is in 
your heart. This honesty of expression (if I may so 
call it), far from making your discourse cold, will con 
strain you to throw into it a warmth more real, more 
profound, than you will reach by any other way. It 
will react on your composition and even on your soul 
in a wholesome way. For in showing things as they 
are, it will expose your faults, and urge you to correct 

" I have spoken of the pulpit. If this were the place 
to speak of the stage, there would be many things to be 
said to the point. Great actors never declaim, they 
speak. Talma, whom I have named so often, began, 
like others, with declaiming. An interesting circum 
stance made him feel the necessity of adopting a new 
manner, more in conformity with nature ; and from that 
day he became in his profession a new man, and pro 
duced a prodigious impression. Those who have heard 
him will tell you that the extreme simplicity of his play 
astounded them, and that they were tempted to think 
of him as an ordinary man, who had no advantage 
over others except his magnificent voice ; but ere long 
the natural subdued them, and the vivid impressions 


made on them compelled them to see that it was from 
its simplicity that his manner derived both its force 
and its originality." 1 

1 "We were rhetoricians," said Talma, "not men. What fine 
academic discourses upon the theatre ! how few simple words ! But 
one evening, chance led me to a saloon where I was in company 
with the chiefs of the Girondists ; their sombre, uneasy appearance 
arrested my attention. There were there, in visible representation, 
interests both great and powerful. They were far too sincere to be 
blinded by egotism in that I found a plain proof of the dangers of 
the country. They proceeded to discuss and to touch questions of 
burning interest. It was very fine. I fancied myself present at one 
of the secret deliberations of the Koman Senate. One ought to 
speak in that manner, I said to myself. A country be it France 
or Rome expresses itself in the same tone, the same language ; if 
these men are not declaiming now, there could have been no decla 
mation in the olden time ; that is plain. I became more attentive. 
My impressions, though produced by a conversation free from any 
excitement, became profound. A calm appearance in men deeply 
moved stirs up the soul, I remarked ; eloquence may then pro 
duce its effect without the body being distorted by disorderly 
movements! I perceived that the speech, though produced with 
out effort and excitement, made the effect more decided, and the 
countenance more expressive. All the deputies that happened to be 
present appeared to me more powerful by their simplicity than on 
the tribune, where, being in public, they thought it necessary to 
deliver harangues after the manner of actors, such actors as we 
were then, that is, declaimers full of bombastic nonsense. From 
that hour I got a new light, and the regeneration of my art flashed 
upon me." 



ALTHOUGH it is no part of our business in this place 
to discuss the question of liturgies or free prayer, it 
may be useful to state the substance of the leading 
arguments pro and con., to help us to obtain a full view 
of the subject, and have under our eye all that is to be 
aimed at on the one hand, and avoided on the other, 
in our devotional services. All who consider the 
question candidly will admit that on both sides of the 
question there are not a few arguments of considerable 

On the side of liturgies it may be urged that the 
Psalms are essentially a liturgy; that it is a great 
advantage for worshippers to know beforehand what 
prayers are to be offered, that they may be able to join 
in them intelligently and heartily ; that a liturgy 
affords facilities unknown to free prayer for combining 
the whole congregation in the service, and drawing out 
their responses to the petitions ; that the fact of their 
offering the same great petitions which have risen from 
the Church in all past ages, and are at the time rising 
from their brethren throughout the whole world, stirs 
the heart and stimulates devotion ; that by the use of 
a liturgy it is comparatively easy for small companies 


to unite in public worship, even where no ordained 
minister is present ; that congregations in general are 
not left in absolute dependence for devotional help on 
the officiating minister, who may be sadly deficient 
both in the gifts and grace of prayer ; and that liturgies 
admit of a conciseness in the substance, and a beauty 
and finish in the language of prayer, fitted to impress 
the worshipper and promote reverential feeling. 

On the other hand, on behalf of free prayer it may 
be urged that it diminishes the risk of that cold, lifeless 
formality which the continual use of the same form of 
words is apt to produce ; that more encouragement is 
given to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who 
alone can enable us to offer acceptable prayer ; that by 
this means the gift and the grace of prayer may be 
greatly developed ; that graceless and prayerless men 
are less tempted to enter the ministry ; that abundant 
and very precious opportunities are afforded for adapt 
ing the prayer either to the special state and wants of 
the congregation, or to events in Providence occurring 
ex tempore ; that though the worshippers may not 
know beforehand the precise particulars of the prayers 
to be offered in public, they are generally well aware 
what their purport will be, especially if the Spirit of 
grace and supplication is poured out ; and that if the 
congregation will but give attention, they will be at no 
loss for opportunities of making responses in their 
hearts the only true responses to the petitions that 
are offered. 

Into the controversy on this subject, we say, we do 
not mean to enter ; partly because we do not see any 
good reason for pitting the one method so exclusively 
against the other as is done in controversy, or for refus 
ing to entertain the question of a combination of both. 


It is an advantage we gain in quiet times, when the 
catholic rather than the controversial spirit is in the 
ascendant, that such questions can be studied calmly, 
and without that controversial bitterness and vehemence 
which goes so often to widen and perpetuate differences. 
But the question more immediately before us at present 
is, in what manner we may best conduct the public 
devotions of our congregations according to the method 
in use among us. The fact that in neighbouring 
churches liturgies are much used, and are often greatly 
prized by the devout for their special advantages, may 
serve to illustrate our responsibility in this department 
of service, and the duty thence arising to qualify our 
selves for it in the best possible manner. 

It is undoubtedly a grave charge, for which there is 
but too much occasion, that in our churches the de 
votional part of the service is often conducted with 
little care and preparation. It may happen that if a 
preacher has fluency enough in the language of prayer 
to carry him on for the usual time without difficulty, 
he does not think what he is to pray for, until he rises 
with the congregation to begin the exercise. The 
prayer which he offers may have many faults, or it 
may have few ; it may possibly be an excellent prayer ; 
but is it conscientious, is it respectful to God, is it fair 
to the congregation for the man who is to be their 
mouthpiece at the throne of grace, to rush into so 
solemn and momentous a service with hardly a thought 
of it beforehand ? He may do it well enough, remark 
ably well in the circumstances, but can it be that he 
will do it in the best possible manner ? And is this a 
service that a conscientious servant of God should be 
content to do except in the best possible way ? Is it 
likely that he will be able to represent the wants and 


feelings of the congregation in the most correct and 
comprehensive manner? Will the selection of topics 
be the very best ? Will nothing be left out that ought 
to be included ? Will his soul not be somewhat slow 
of kindling into fervour, beginning perhaps to glow 
only when it is time to stop ? Will he be able to com 
bine fervour of spirit and absorption of soul in the 
exercise, with an orderly regard to all that his prayer 
is to embrace? Will the language be of that trans 
parent, direct, simple, yet beautiful order, of which the 
psalrns, and all the prayers and anthems of Scripture, 
are so remarkable examples ? Will the prayer be free 
from repetitions, clumsinesses, circumlocutions, and 
other incumbrances, which Bible prayers never con 
tain? Who can say that it will? Or who can say 
that it is right to trust all to the Spirit helping our 
infirmities at the moment, if we neglect what we 
might do beforehand towards the more thorough per 
formance of the duty ? 

It is often thrown out as a reproach against our 
services, that the preaching is everything, and the 
devotional exercises little or nothing. Our people do 
not hesitate to say that they go to church to hear their 
minister, subordinating to this the thought of worship 
ping God. When they have listened to a discourse 
which has pleased them, they are said to be more in the 
spirit of glorifying their pastor than exalting their God 
and Saviour. To a certain extent there is truth in this 
charge, but not so much as is often alleged. We do lay 
great stress on preaching ; it is the most prominent part 
of our service ; but it is a great error to suppose that 
right preaching has no direct bearing upon right worship. 
Without a great deal of right preaching there will be 
little or no right worship. Worship will become per- 


vaded by the spirit of formalism, or sacramentarianism, 
or superstition. Our altars will be altars to an un 
known God. Intelligent and evangelical preaching lies 
at the very foundation of intelligent and evangelical 
worship. Men must know GOD before they can under 
stand what worship he requires. They must know 
THEMSELVES to understand the footing on which they 
stand to God, and their miserable shortcomings in his 
sight. They must know the MEDIATOR, in order to get 
near to God by the new and living way, and have 
confidence towards him. They must know the HOLY 
SPIRIT, the only author of spiritual worship. They 
must know the SCRIPTURES, where alone they have the 
revelation of God, of themselves, of Jesus Christ, and 
of the Holy Spirit. 

Further, preaching is not merely adapted to commu 
nicate the knowledge, but also to rouse the feelings that 
are connected with true worship. Very miserable and 
inefficient preaching truly it will be if it have no ten 
dency to rouse these feelings. "Whatever tends to con 
vince men of their sins, and humble them before God 
whatever serves to exalt the grace of God in Christ, to 
commend His love, to impress the infinitude of His 
mercy on the one hand, and the strength of His claims 
on the other whatever goes to deepen our sense of re 
sponsibility, to kindle longings after purity and progress, 
to intensify our Christian interest in the welfare of those 
about us, and of the world at large, all tends to promote 
the spirit of worship. How will such feelings get an 
outlet but in worship ? The very cherishing of them, 
the consciousness of them, is of the essence of worship ; 
they are the living soul of which the forms of worship 
are the body. We utterly deny, therefore, that there is 
any essential contrariety, and we maintain that there is 


the closest connexion between preaching of the right 
sort and worship. At the same time, we believe that 
there is commonly too little regard had to this con 
nexion, too little endeavour to make preaching conduce 
to the formation and development of a spirit of worship, 
and to stir up and exercise the spirit thus developed in 
the devotional exercises which we have. 

The truth is, that the whole prevalent theory of public 
worship, not in Scotland or the Presbyterian Church 
alone, but throughout Christendom generally, is nar 
rowed by tradition and formality, and stands in need 
of rekindling and expansion. The true ideal of united 
worship is for the most part buried. People go to 
church and chapel alike with hardly an attempt to 
enter into the spirit of common worship that is, to stir 
up a Christian and brotherly feeling to all their fellow- 
worshippers, and embrace them along with themselves 
in their thanksgivings, confessions, and supplications. 
The grand Scriptural conception of public worship was 
presented when the tribes of Israel assembled for their 
festivals at Jerusalem. A man s individuality was all 
but lost in the great public spirit of these occasions in 
the sense of the vast brotherhood with which he united 
in his devotional services, every member of it having 
a brotherly interest in him, while he had a brotherly 
interest in every one of them. How vastly would it 
enlarge our hearts to feel thus with the congregation 
with whom we worship ! Instead of merely bearing in 
mind our individual sins or mercies, burdens or tempta 
tions, to open our hearts wide enough for all our fellow- 
worshippers, so far as we know or can fancy their 
circumstances, and to go before God with our arms 
round them, as it were, and our hearts full of them. 
What glorious enlargement in public worship would 



this not give us ! How much more acceptable a ser 
vice should we in this way offer to God ! How much 
more of the sweet influence of his presence should 
we feel, and what a vindication should we have of 
our assemblies for public worship, associated as they 
would be directly, and in the highest sense, with glory 
to God in the highest, on earth peace, good-will to 
men ! 

The parts of public service which have now to be 
considered in detail are three 1st, The selection of 
psalms or hymns for public singing ; 2d, The selection 
of portions of Scripture for public reading ; and, 3d, 
The offering up of the common prayer of the congre 

I. If three or four portions are to be sung during a 
meeting for public worship, the first is most suitably a 
direct invocation of God, to be sung as an act of homage, 
and an expression of longing desire and trust, of humi 
lity, faith, and love ; the last is selected to follow up 
the discourse ; and the intermediate piece or pieces may 
either be adapted to the prayers, or to the portions of 
Scripture that have preceded, or to the discourse that is 
to follow. The practice, still kept up in Scotland, though 
not usually elsewhere, of reading out in full the words of 
the psalm or hymn to be sung, which seems to have come 
down from times when psalm-books and hymn-books 
were less common, gives to the officiating minister the 
opportunity of associating it with the proper expression 
of feeling, and may help to bring the hearts of the 
people into tune with what their voices are to sing. 
In a congregation just assembled, or hardly assembled 
(as unhappily is too often the case when worship begins), 
there is a vast amount of dispersed, or rather ungathered 


feeling minds not concentrated on the act of worship, 
not at all in accord with the service to be begun. Any 
thing that the officiating minister can do at the begin 
ning to bring the hearts of the people up to the right 
starting-point, is of real value. The devout but un 
affected reading of the verses, as expressing emotions 
which he feels, and which they ought to feel, is at least 
a contribution, though a small one, towards this end ; 
and at prayer-meetings, where there is less formality, a 
few simple words indicating the character of the feeling- 
expressed, and calling on the people to endeavour to 
stir it up, may have a favourable effect. Certainly there 
is something particularly delightful and encouraging 
when from the very first the singing denotes a worship 
ping people when it is a genuine burst of feeling, 
gathering together even the hearts that are least united, 
and warming in some sense those which are most cold. 
And very much will depend on the example set by the 
minister himself. It is not right for him to give out 
such words as these : 

" thou my soul, bless God the Lord ; 

And all that in me is 
Be stirred up His holy name 
To magnify and bless," 

and then fling off the business on the people, as if it 
were no concern of his. And it will be found that the 
minister who joins most heartily in the opening psalm 
is in the best spirit for the opening prayer. 

For all that concerns the most direct and immediate 
fellowship which the soul can hold with God, the 
Psalms are unapproached and unapproachable; and it 
will be a degenerate day in the spiritual life of our 
country that sees them pass into disuse as materials 
for praise. With hardly an exception, the Christian 


church now joins hymns and spiritual songs with 
psalms in public worship; and in order that a pure 
taste and a pure theology may be combined in those 
selected for this purpose, it is of no small importance, 
for those especially whose taste lies in this direction, 
to cultivate an acquaintance with lyrical poetry 
generally, and especially with religious lyrics. It is a 
very charming study ; extremely refreshing in hours of 
weariness ; touching up the dreary places of life with 
the gold of heaven ; giving waters in the wilderness, 
and rivers in the desert. Besides, it is by comparison 
that the peculiar power and beauty of lyrical poetry 
comes to be known, and the songs that are best adapted 
to foster a truly Christian spirit are recognised. A 
false taste in hymns is unfortunately too prevalent ; 
and it rests mainly with Christian ministers and influ 
ential Christian laymen whose taste is cultivated, to 
correct and improve it. 

In these days when psalmody rightly occupies so 
prominent a place among the things that we desire to 
improve, and when there is such scope for improve 
ment in psalmody, such masses of improveable material 
in our congregations, it is a great advantage for a 
minister to be able to take part personally in this 
matter. For wherever he possesses the great spiritual 
influence that he ought to have, it will be found that 
no important movement thrives so well when he stands 
aloof, as when he gives it his personal countenance and 
aid. And nothing is more valuable than his personal 
influence in this matter, in order to prevent the more 
aesthetic element from becoming too prominent, and 
from pushing the more spiritual element aside. In 
an ordinary congregation there are usually some 
persons interested in the psalmody, whose regard 


for the musical element preponderates ; while there are 
others whose sympathy is almost exclusively with the 
spiritual. A certain measure of antagonism is liable 
to arise between them, and there is often a difficulty in 
bringing them together. It lies with the minister and 
office-bearers to supply the uniting medium, by trying 
to get the musical element to become the handmaid of 
the spiritual, and the spiritual to give life, consecration, 
and elevation to the musical. 

There are few matters connected with public worship, 
on which there is more need for enlightening our con 
gregations than the true purpose of music in devotion. 
If the question were asked of any congregation, Why, 
or for what spiritual ends, musical sound has been 
divinely ordained as a vehicle of worship, we should 
probably obtain in most cases a very bald and imper 
fect answer. Some would say, Because it affords 
opportunity to all to join ; others, Because it relieves 
and freshens the minds of the worshippers ; and others, 
Because man s enjoyment of music must be a reflection 
of God s. All so far true ; yet there is a deeper reason 
which these answers do not touch. Musical sound is 
capable of being made a more powerful organ both of 
expression and of impression than plain sound. It has 
a faculty of expressing thought and feeling. We see 
this in the case of all great singers. It is the depth or 
the tenderness, or the sublimity, or the wildness, or the 
sweetness of the feeling they express, that is the highest 
quality of their singing. Of this kind too, devotional 
singing ought surely to be. But inasmuch as devotional 
emotions are so much more t intense than most other 
emotions, the degree of feeling expressed in devotional 
singing ought to be correspondingly greater. Ought it 
not then to be an object of ministers in superintending 


singing classes, to urge that the singing should be the 
expression, the manifest expression, of feeling ? Pro 
fessional teachers of psalmody are too little in the way 
of attending to this. When the singing does express 
feeling powerfully, there comes into operation the other 
power of good music, that of aiding impression. The 
act of singing reacts on the singer ; his soul is moved, 
his whole being penetrated with emotion; a thrill 
passes through him. Still more is this reaction pro 
duced in the case of a great body of devotional singers; 
a glow is diffused throughout them, the feeling is pro 
duced of being at the gate of heaven. 

We seem however to be but beginning to apprehend 
the full use of which this part of divine service is 
capable. The next generation is more likely to enter 
into this view, if the rising race of ministers will strive 
to instruct and guide them towards it. Imagination 
can hardly set bounds to the spiritual gain that would 
come to congregations, if the singing could be brought 
up to its proper level if every psalm and hymn were 
a real cardiphonia, the appropriate utterance of the 
heart, and if the utterance were so rich and full that 
the feelings of the worshippers would kindle into holy 
fervour, and sweep and circle up to heaven like a cloud 
of incense. 

The use of music in worship is so apt to be abused 
that care must ever be taken to make it and keep it 
the handmaid of true spiritual devotion. But where 
this is done, a considerably larger amount of time may 
profitably be set apart for singing in our public services. 
Specially attractive and interesting to the young, the 
service of lively song breaks the monotony otherwise 
so apt to be felt, while it is peculiarly suitable for the 
expression and development of that joyous hearty spirit 


in which the praises of a public assembly ought to rise 
to God. 

II. For regulating the selection of portions of Scrip 
ture for public reading the principles applicable will 
naturally occur to every one. Two considerations, of a 
general nature, may influence the selection, according 
as the aim is to help the devotional, or the didactic 
part of the service. Where the object is devotional, 
the psalms present themselves as the ready and incom 
parable means of accomplishing the end. And indeed 
it is a general conviction that great and manifold use 
should be made of the psalms. It is one of the excel 
lencies of the service of the Church of England, that 
it fulfils this important condition. The method so 
common among us of singing the psalms in little bits 
certainly does not enable us to get the full benefit of 
that many-stringed harp of David, with its wonderful 
richness and variety of feeling, sweeping over the whole 
field of religious experience. Very often, therefore, the 
psalms ought to be resorted to for part at least of the 
public readings. 

The art of reading the Scriptures well is one greatly 
to be coveted. To some the gift is given in a wonder 
ful degree ; their reading is like the perfection of music 
The voice easy, flexible, musical, adapting itself so 
readily to every shade of feeling : the subdued solemn 
tone, as if in speaking God s words one dared not let 
one s-self fully out ; the under-current of earnest feeling 
that shows itself by no boisterous eruption, but by the 
subdued spirit which seeks to be silent before God, 
may well be ranked among the " best gifts " which the 
apostle has told us to covet earnestly. For the attain 
ment of such a power there is needed a marvellous 
combination of mechanical skill and spiritual feeling. 


III. We come now to public prayer. In adverting 
to this part of public worship it were difficult to find a 
better starting-point than the definition in the Cate 
chism " Prayer is the offering up of our desires unto 
God." Let this be kept in mind, in public and in private 
prayer, and almost without further direction it will 
guide to a right view of the mode of performing the 
exercise. Prayer is a transaction with God, as really, 
though not as palpably, as Abraham s intercession for 
the men of Sodom was a transaction with God, or 
Jacob s night of wrestling at Peniel. Let the minister 
feel himself face to face with God, speaking no word, 
expressing no feeling, harbouring no imagination from 
which he would recoil if he stood before the throne, 
and saw the Mighty One in visible form bending his 
ear. Prayer is the offering up of the desires of the heart. 
It is a presenting to God of certain spiritual offerings 
the desires of the heart. Therefore it is neither a 
devout meditation, nor a sacred disquisition. If it be 
not an offering up of desires, it is not prayer. There 
are prayers, so called, which in reality are little disserta 
tions, or " preaching-prayers," but they do not offer up 
the desires of the heart. There are what we may call 
historical pray era, where the minister gives God an 
elaborate narrative of something, introducing each 
clause with the words, " Thou knowest," as much as to 
say if only the man himself would act on it there is 
no need for our telling thee. Public prayer is no prayer 
unless it represent and express the desires of the heart. 1 

1 The following enumeration of this class of prayers has been 
given by an American writer : " (1.) Doctrinal prayers, or prayers 
designed to inculcate certain doctrines which are regarded by the 
speaker as essential or important. (2.) Historical prayers, in which 
are compressed long narratives for the infoi mation of persons not 
acquainted with the details of the facts referred to. (3.) Hortatory 


Then "prayer is the offering up of our desires to 
God :" not of the desires of the minister as an indi 
vidual an exercise for which his closet is the appro 
priate place ; but of the minister and flock together, of 
the minister as the representative of the flock, speaking 
with them and speaking for them. He is the head 
and mouth-piece, as it were, of a deputation at the 
throne of grace, and ought to feel that he is there as a 
representative, quite as much as the head of any depu 
tation that ever went to present petition or memorial 
to a Prime Minister. It is his having this representa 
tive character in prayer that makes it so necessary for 
him to consider beforehand what his prayers are to 
consist of. Great individuality in public prayer, dwell 
ing on things appropriate to his own condition, but not 
theirs, is an impertinence and a wrong of a serious kind. 
Common prayer should have as its substratum what 
belongs to all God s children ; its starting-point man s 
guilt, demerit, want, and misery ; its attitude, towards 
the Cross ; and its fundamental petitions, the great 
evangelical gifts. Thus, even if the sermon should not 


prayers, intended to stir up the zeal of the congregation in regard 
to some particular subject or enterprise which at the moment may 
be thought interesting. (4.) Denunciatory prayers, designed to warn 
the audience against certain errors or practices, to put down certain 
sentiments, or to awaken towards them indignant feelings ; being 
appeals to men, not addresses to God. (5.) Personal prayers, which 
spring from a desire to administer a secret rebuke, or to bestow 
condemnation, some individual being expressly in the mind of the 
person praying. (6.) Eloquent prayers, in which there is a display 
of a brilliant fancy, and of polished and elegant language, com 
pelling the hearer to say, What a fine prayer that was ! (7.) 
Familiar prayer, in which there is an evident absence of that 
sacred awe and reverence which should fill the mind in every 
approach to God. (8.) Sectarian prayers, indicating very clearly 
an attachment to a particular sect among the multitude of Christian 
denominations. (9.) Long prayers, which weary and exhaiist the 
spirit of devotion." 


be on a topic leading the preacher to expound the 
scheme of salvation, the prayers by their very structure, 
though not in formal words, would indicate the way 
since the consciously lost sinner, in the person of the 
minister, would be seen looking up to the Cross, and 
rejoicing in the grace which guides to heaven. 

In prayer, as in preaching, a very close bond is 
formed between the minister and his people, when he 
enters sympathetically into their circumstances, and, 
at the throne of grace, shows that he is mindful of the 
very temptations, wants, difficulties, and perplexities of 
which they feel the pressure every day. Living as the 
minister does, and ought to do, out of the world, out of 
the sphere at all events where the world s most charac 
teristic spirit reigns, it is not easy for him to know the 
real obstructions to a godly life, without and within, to 
which the mass of people are exposed. That which is 
peculiar to the spiritual life he may and ought to know 
better than any ; but the action of the ordinary condi 
tions of the outer life upon the inner he must take 
some trouble to discover. When his prayers show an 
acquaintance both wth the outward and the inward 
obstructions, and grace is sought suitable to this state 
of things, the drawing together of hearts is very 
wonderful. It is a good sign, both of minister and 
people, when he is much prized for his prayers when 
the people feel that his words express all their hearts, 
and that in his company they are borne up close to the 
very footstool of the throne. 

But if in public prayer the minister sustains this 
representative character, and is bound to ta,ke the 
godly part of his flock along with him to the throne of 
grace, the absence of all premeditation or preparation 
for public prayer must necessarily lead, as Dr. C. J. 


Brown has remarked, to one or other of two evils : 
" either he must slide gradually into a form of his own, a 
repetition of substantially the same things Sabbath after 
Sabbath (to which would not a good liturgy be prefer 
able ?), or else, in trying to avoid this, he must wander 
up and down, as some ship at sea, without compass 
or rudder, at the mercy of every wind that blows." It 
is to avoid both these evils that premeditation is so 
necessary to the right discharge of this duty. 

Three points require special attention in connexion 
with public prayer: 1. The topics or substance. 2. 
The language or style. 3. The tone and utterance. 

1. Ever since the days of Origen, who wrote the first 
treatise on prayer (De Oratione), four divisions have 
usually been specified Adoration, confession, thanks 
giving, and supplication. All public prayers must em 
brace more or less of these several divisions. But 
obviously no single prayer can include more than a few 
fragments of each. For a minister to attempt on a 
single occasion to go round the whole and embrace every 
thing is utterly out of the question. It is one of the 
points on which premeditation must be exercised 
what topics are to be selected for each occasion, and 
how are they to be distributed so that within a suitable 
period all may be included ? While a certain character 
of unity will mark the public prayers of every thought 
ful minister, there will at the same time be an ample 
field for variety. The same great subjects of thanks 
giving, confession, and supplication ever occurring ; the 
details connected with each varying from time to time. 
In fact it is one of the points in which a holy skill 
requires to be exercised, to combine brevity, unity, and 
definiteness. In Foster s remarks on Eobert Hall s 
Character as a Preacher, he adverts to a failure in 


this respect by which the great orator was charac 
terized. 1 While the devotional spirit was admirable, 
" the greatest seriousness and simplicity, the plainest 
character of genuine piety, humble and prostrate before 
the Almighty " there was often in the petitions a 
vagueness and want of unity, a kind of random com 
bination not to have been looked for in so great a 
preacher. " Prayers," says Mr. Foster very justly, 
" which do not detain the thoughts on any certain 
things in particular, take very slight hold of the audi 

- 2. Language or style. Instinctively, every devout 
heart will express itself in prayer in simple language. 
Figures of speech in prayer, except they be so simple as 
to have lost the semblance of figures, are utterly out of 
the question. Elaborate rhetorical periods are simply 
an abomination. What are described as " eloquent 
prayers" must ever be regarded with suspicion. An 
eloquent prayer is calculated to raise the question, Was 
it designed for the ear of God or for the ear of man ? 
The reporter of an American newspaper revealed more 
than he probably intended when he described a prayer 
offered on one occasion by Mr. Edward Everett, the 
celebrated Unitarian orator, as " the most eloquent 
prayer that was ever addressed to a Boston audience." 

While artificial rhetoric is ever to be shunned, a 
certain neatness and conciseness of style is highly 
suitable. All uncouthness, flabbiness, clumsiness, is 
especially disagreeable in prayer, and no doubt it is the 
frequent occurrence of such things that affords ground 
for objection to extempore public prayer. Attention 
at the beginning of his course to neatness of expres 
sion in the language of prayer will be of the greatest 

1 Hall s HTorfo, i. 207. 


service to the young preacher. By arid by his ordinary 
language will assume somewhat of the point, precision, 
and finish of a liturgy. 

The copious use of Scriptural expressions in prayer 
is of the most essential importance. The remark of 
Addison has often been quoted on this subject, although 
it is not very profound or exhaustive : " There is a 
certain coldness," he says, " in the phrases of European 
languages, compared with the oriental form of speech. 
The English tongue has received innumerable improve 
ments from an infusion of Hebraisms, derived out of 
the practical passages in Holy Writ. They warm and 
animate our language, give it force and energy, and 
convey our thoughts in ardent and intense phrases. 
There is something in this kind of diction that often 
sets the mind in a flame, and makes our hearts burn 
within us. How cold and dead is a prayer composed 
in the most elegant form of speech, when it is not height 
ened by that solemnity of phrase which may be drawn 
from the sacred writings." 

The use of the Lord s Prayer in our Scottish ser 
vice, provided it be not carelessly rhymed over, but 
uttered devoutly and thoughtfully, is to many devout 
minds a great comfort. Preachers can hardly under 
stand with what delight some of their people welcome 
that part of the service where they are led in prayer, 
not in the words of man but in the words of the blessed 
Lord himself. It is not merely that in every petition 
of the Lord s Prayer there is such infinite depth and 
fulness, but the language is such a model of clearness, 
directness, and simplicity. It were well if the Lord s 
Prayer were taken as a model for all prayer more than 
it is. The other prayers of Scripture are constructed 
on the same principle. Those of St. Paul are wonder- 


ful examples of brevity and richness, and are usually 
constructed with a fine musical cadence. It is no wonder 
if those whose ear is accustomed to such prayers are 
offended by the loose, rambling, flabby performances 
they sometimes hear. There is a language suitable for 
prayer equally removed from the grandiloquence of the 
rhetorician and from the careless clumsiness of the im 
promptu orator. David or rather Moses began it, and 
John, who quotes Moses in the Apocalypse, crowned 
it. Nothing higher or better ever has been or ever 
can be achieved. 

To train himself to make skilful and neat use of 
suitable passages of Scripture in prayer is one of the 
most indispensable exercises of the young preacher. To 
achieve this power ought to be one of his most earnest 
endeavours ; for not to be able to throw his petitions 
into the language of the Holy Spirit is to fail in one 
of the most important means of edification which a 
Christian congregation can enjoy. 

3. The tone and utterance. One rule, well observed, 
will make all other rules superfluous let prayer be 
uttered as in the very presence of God poured into 
his ear as from a miserable sinner who deserves his 
wrath, but to whom for Christ s sake He extends his 
infinite mercy. In prayer so uttered there will always 
be an undertone of felt unworthiness, the voice will 
have a touch of contrition, while a plaintive, fervent 
tone of entreaty will characterize the prayer throughout. 
The absence of this tone raises a great objection to many 
extempore prayers, and no other qualities can make up 
for such a want. The prayer of one who does not seem 
to feel that he is in God s presence, or who, if he does, 
shows none of that subdued air which is so appropriate 
to sinners standing before God, must be felt to have a 


vital want. How can we expect to conduct our people 
into God s presence if we do not enter it ourselves, or 
to lead them to stand in awe before Him, if our own air 
is that of self-satisfied indifference ? 

The undertone of contrition need not hinder the 
right expression of that gladness and serene satisfaction 
which the experience of God s grace is fitted to bring. 
Our confidence indeed will be all the greater, that we 
can draw the line so clearly between our deserts and 
God s infinite grace can say, " Thou wast angry with 
us, but thine anger is turned away, and thou com- 
fortest us." 

It may be useful, with equal brevity, to advert to 
some of the most common faults in public prayer. 

One of these is excessive length. Nothing is more 
clearly shown by experience than the impossibility of 
continuing to join heartily in very long prayers. For 
people to throw themselves heartily into the current of 
another man s devotions involves a great mental effort, 
and in proportion to the greatness of the effort is their 
liability to fatigue. It is quite certain that attention 
cannot be given beyond a certain point, and when 
attention fails, devotion ends, Whitefield is said to 
have remarked to an excellent minister, whose prayer 
was unreasonably long, " You prayed me into a good 
frame, and you jprayed me out of it." A minister is 
not, of course, to have regard to the outcry of every 
worldly-minded person who sighs for short prayers, 
short sermons, short services, and, as some one proposed 
to add, short religion in general. But if it be the case 
that from five to ten minutes is the longest period 
during which the average Christianity of a congregation 
can join in prayer, let him accommodate himself to 
their capacity, and if more time for prayer should be 


deemed necessary, let him rather increase the number 
of prayers, than lengthen out any to an undue degree. 
It is to be observed that long prayers are not the usual 
characteristic of a very vital condition of Christianity, 
but rather of a time when formal services are sub 
stituted for true spiritual worship. 

Another evil to be avoided is inaccurate quotation. 
We mean, of course, quotation from Scripture, for 
hardly any other quotation is endurable in public 
prayer. How many erroneous quotations, as from 
Scripture, have become stereotyped, and are reproduced 
by minister after minister taking them up thoughtlessly 
from some one whom he has been in the habit of hear 
ing, would be almost incredible, if the facts were not 
very clear. Dr. Brown has called attention to the 
extraordinary physical attitude in which the minister 
sometimes proposes to place himself and his people by 
a blending of no fewer than four several passages : 
"We would put our hand on our mouth, and our 
mouth in the dust, and cry out, Unclean, unclean ! God 
be merciful to us sinners." Often we hear it said, 
" There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be 
feared, and plenteous redemption that thou mayest be 
sought unto" these last words being an unwarranted 
addition. So it is often said, " Thou art of purer eyes 
than to behold iniquity, and canst not look on sin with 
out abhorrence" the last two words, which are meant to 
strengthen, really serving to dilute and weaken the 
sense. God is called "the hearer and answerer of 
prayer;" " The dark places of the earth are full of the 
habitations of horrid cruelty ;" and where two or three 
are met together, God is asked to be " in the midst of 
them, to bless them and to do them, good" as if God 
could bless them without doing them good. 


Expletives, repetitions, and redundancies, are blem 
ishes in prayer. It weakens the force of real prayer 
constantly to insert the words "we beseech thee"- 
words, we may remark, which are not often uttered in 
a beseeching tone. Nor is it seemly to be throwing in 
Oh s and Ah s at all points : they have an artificial look, 
if they are not really artificial ; and it is far better that 
the earnestness of the heart should show itself by the 
deep soul-fervour of the tones, than by words which 
are certainly an offence to many, and probably an 
advantage to none. 

The Catechism gives another instruction, admirably 
adapted to public as well as private prayer, when it 
exhorts us "to draw near to God with all holy re 
verence and confidence, as children to a father." To 
draw near: to be intimate, close, fearless, as is the 
privilege of children ; yet reverential, as in presence of 
the Infinite, before whom the seraphim cover their 
faces with their wings. Let our dealings with God be 
direct and simple, and such as to invite the co-opera 
tion of our people, and almost constrain them to utter 
their responsive " Amen." Let the voice be equally 
removed from the cold tone of indifference, and the 
sharp notes of excitement ; let our tone be neither an 
affected whine nor a thundering roar ; but the humble, 
plaintive tone of earnest appeal, in which the sense of 
un worthiness and our confidence in God s grace blend in 
a kind of heavenly music. The strength of prayer is not 
in the earthquake, nor in the thunder, but in the still 
small voice. " In quietness, and in confidence shall be 
your strength." 

Nor must we forget that to qualify us for prayer in 
public, we need much experience of it in secret. The 
preparation of our own spirit, the exciting of earnest 



thoughts and feelings there, the appeal, "Awake, 
north wind, and come, thou south," are indispensable to 
the right discharge of this duty. How can one be a 
leader in anything, if one is not even a doer ? How 
can one lead the devotions of a congregation, if one has 
no devotion of one s own ? 



HITHERTO, we have considered the Christian minis 
ter mainly as a preacher, a public teacher, addressing 
his people from the pulpit, or leading their devotions 
when they are assembled to worship God. It must be 
remembered, however, that ordinarily the minister is a 
pastor as well as a preacher. He is called to deal with 
individual souls, as well as to proclaim to an assembled 
congregation the message of the Gospel. Between these 
two functions of the ministry, there need be no opposi 
tion, though sometimes the impression prevails that 
diligence in the one is incompatible with success in 
the other. The fact however is, that where this has 
seemed to be the case, it has generally been due to the 
fact of the minister giving himself too exclusively to 
that department of work for which he has the greatest 
aptitude and inclination. Some ministers have a na 
tural liking for society ; it is pleasant for them to be 
with their fellows, conversation is their element, they 
like to move about among their people ; and owing to 
this inclination, they are led to devote to this branch of 
duty a disproportionate amount of time, and to leave 
too little for pulpit preparation. To others, again, 
owing to difference of temperament, it is difficult 


and irksome to pay visits ; conversation with uncon 
genial minds is a toil that oppresses them ; the com 
munication of thought and feeling by that channel is 
always consciously feeble, if not consciously a failure ; 
it suits them better to address large numbers of per 
sons ; for that they can summon up and concentrate 
their powers of thought and feeling ; consequently their 
temptation is to neglect the duties of the pastorate, and 
confine themselves to those of the pulpit. 

But in point of fact, there is no real antagonism be 
tween the pastorate and the pulpit, nor does it appear 
a very impracticable achievement that the one should 
be made the useful, happy handmaid of the other. The 
pastoral duty of the minister may easily be made a 
most valuable auxiliary to his pulpit work, and the 
pulpit duty, rightly performed, will seek its natural 
outlet and application in the pastoral. It is only by 
personal intercourse with his people that the minister 
can gain a true knowledge of them, their errors, sins, 
temptations, difficulties, the kind of guidance which 
they need, and the style of preaching that comes home 
to them and helps them. It is only by this means, too, 
that he can thoroughly learn the effect of his preaching, 
who are awakened, who are perplexed, who are at rest. 
Often, in pastoral visiting, he will have texts and topics 
suggested to him, on which his preaching will have a 
life-like earnestness and power; nay, like Paul at 
Athens, he will sometimes have his spirit stirred within 
him, and feel God s Word working like a fire in his 
bosom, which will not endure to be restrained. On 
the other hand, when the preacher is earnest in his 
pulpit ; when looking round, he sees unwonted interest 
expressed in this face or in that, some young person 
evidently arrested, and beginning to look wistfully to- 


wards the gate of the kingdom of heaven, or some care 
worn countenance relaxing under the dawn of Christian 
hope, it is impossible not to desire to watch the change 
at a nearer point, and endeavour to be more immediately 
helpful to those who seem as if they would enter into the 
kingdom, if only some one would take them by the hand. 
The pastoral functions of the Christian minister are 
not only fully recognised in Scripture, but are placed in 
a light at once interesting and beautiful. The emblems 
which shadow it forth are those which are most expres 
sive of a relation of great affection ; such as a nurse, a 
shepherd, a physician, a father. "We were gentle 
among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children ; so 
being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to 
have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, 
but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us" 
(1 Thess. ii. 7, 8). The model of the faithful and affec 
tionate pastor is presented to us by God in his own 
person " I will seek that which was lost, and bring 
again that which was driven away, and will bind up 
that which was broken, and will strengthen that which 
was sick ; but I will destroy the fat and the strong ; 1 
will feed them with judgment" (Ezek. xxxiv. 16). In 
the New Testament the same figure recurs, applied by 
Christ, the good Shepherd, to denote the relation 
between him and his flock : " My sheep hear my voice, 
and I know them, and they follow me ; " " but a stranger 
will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they 
know not the voice of strangers" (John x. 27 and 5). 
In Paul the Apostle, we have the model at once of the 
great preacher and the affectionate and painstaking 
pastor. He could remind the Ephesian elders how he 
had taught them not only " publicly," but " from house 
to house" (Acts xx. 20), and in writing to the Church 


of Borne, he fills a whole chapter with personal mes 
sages, showing not only his interest in individuals, but 
his acquaintance with the spiritual history of each 
(Rom. xvi.). If we seek in modern times for an in 
stance of a great preacher moulded after the same type, 
we find it in our own Chalmers, so incomparable in the 
pulpit, and yet the founder of territorial missions, the 
reviver, in a great degree, of the parochial organization, 
and the unwearied searcher out of the lost and fallen. 

The practice of pastoral intercourse between a minis 
ter and his people has received the strongest com 
mendations from the earliest to the latest times. Igna 
tius, in his epistle to Polycarp, urges his friend to be 
the protector and friend of the widows ; not to despise 
male or female slaves ; to speak to the sisters, exhort 
ing them to love the Lord and to be satisfied with their 
husbands both in flesh and spirit ; in like manner to 
exhort the brothers to love their wives ; and to seek after 
all "by name. 1 Archbishop Leighton in his last retire 
ment remarked " Had I again to be a parish minister, 
I must follow sinners to their homes and even to their 
alehouse." Dr. Doddridge said that his heart did not 
upbraid him with having kept back anything that 
might be profitable to his people, but he feared that 
he had not followed them sufficiently with domestic 
and personal exhortations. 2 There are few earnest men 
who, on a review of their ministry from the close of 
life, will not in some degree share this feeling. Arch 
bishop Whately begins his lectures to "The Parish 
Pastor" by strenuously urging the diligent and un 
wearied performance of this branch of duty. 

Even in the lowest point of view, the advantages to 

1 Epist. to Polycarp, ch. iv. v. 

2 See Bridges s Christian Ministry, Part v. 


a minister of a personal acquaintance with the flock to 
whom he preaches, are remarkably great. It is in every 
way a benefit to the shepherd to know his sheep, and 
to call them each by name. A subtle but powerful 
sympathy is established between them, especially in 
the case of the young, and the less educated classes, 
No one can well estimate the benefit which a young 
person derives, in a religions point of view, from personal 
friendly acquaintance with his minister, if the minister 
be not only a good but a friendly man. A young man 
who has no religious parents, no religious associates, and 
no personal acquaintance with a Christian minister, is 
extremely apt to fall under the impression that religion 
is a matter with which personally lie has little or no 
thing to do. But should a minister know him, show 
an interest in him, speak to him seriously but kindly, 
and urge on him his personal responsibility in regard 
to the Gospel, he is far more likely to respond to his ap 
peals. The subtlest and strongest human bond that draws 
the feelings of men is that of sympathy. Now, friendly 
knowledge of a person, the habit of speaking to him 
and inquiring for his welfare when you meet, or of call 
ing at his house with a friendly purpose, is a contribution, 
though not a very large one, towards the establishment 
of sympathy. So long as you labour to do good from 
the pulpit among those whom you do not know, you 
labour under the manifest disadvantage of having little 
or no hold, at least no necessary hold, on their sympa 
thies. Get acquainted with them, and interested in 
them, where there was before a drawback, there comes 
to be a conspiring force in your favour. 

We are not therefore to set down the craving which 
some worthy people have for frequent visits from their 
minister, as wholly unreasonable and without founda- 


tion. No doubt, there are cases in which it arises from 
a low motive, from the ]ove of attention, from a poor 
desire to be made much of; but on the other hand, it 
may be the expression of that craving for sympathy 
and personal interest which makes the relation be 
tween minister and people so much more pleasant and 
so much more profitable. If, therefore, in the course of 
visitation, you can do no more than get into personal 
sympathy with your people, an important end is gained, 
provided the time you spend together is not spent in a 
quite frivolous way. But this is very far from the only 
benefit that pastoral visitation may confer. If it can 
be made subservient to spiritual acquaintance, if by 
means of it, whether directly or indirectly, the pastor 
can learn what is passing in the hearts of his people, 
and adapt his instruction accordingly, its benefits will 
plainly be of a far higher kind. 

We have no hesitation, therefore, in pressing upon 
you, when you are settled as ministers of congregations, 
and especially if they be small charges in the country, 
to give its due place to pastoral visiting. If, in the 
course of time, you are translated to large towns, or 
called to minister to large flocks, and are compelled to 
engage in a large amount of miscellaneous work, your 
duty in pastoral visitation may not be so pressing. But 
in other circumstances it is quite necessary. And in 
order that you may do it effectually and thoroughly, 
the first requisite is that you do it systematically. 

There are two kinds of pastoral visits to be kept in 
view, namely, the regular visitation of the whole fami 
lies and adherents of a congregation or a territory ; and 
the visitation of the sick and afflicted. For each of 
these purposes it is desirable to have an allotted time, 
but especially for the first the yisitation of families. 


The other cases will in a sense assert their own claims ; 
but without a fixed time set apart for it, the general 
visitation, as it may be called, is apt to be neglected. 
It is surely not too much to devote to this purpose the 
chief part of at least one day in the week. If so, let 
it be the same day. It is an advantage to the minister, 
and an advantage to the people, when it is known that 
one particular day is devoted by him to this purpose. 
To facilitate the work as much as possible, let a plan of 
visitation be constructed, indicating the order in which 
the people are to be taken, and the time in which it 
may be expected that the work will be completed, 
leaving a margin for possible interruptions. Let the 
minister be careful to have full lists of the people, con 
taining the names, residences, and employments of all, 
and the ages of the young. He will find it too very 
desirable to keep a record of his visits. If he trust his 
memory to recall in future years the topics on which 
he addressed them on former occasions, he will pro 
bably find that he has been leaning on a broken reed. 
Such a record will become a most valuable document, 
as a reminiscence of his work, and will greatly help the 
pastor in planning his visits after a few years have 
elapsed, when some fresh difficulties are apt to present 

We are the more earnest in insisting on the sys 
tematic prosecution of the work of visitation, because 
many country charges are small, and in the case of 
these the necessity of system is less obvious, but not 
less real, than where the flock is large. In fact, it is 
one of the greatest snares of a small charge, and one 
that demands to be guarded against with extraordinary 
vigilance, that, being small, it seems as if there were no 
need for system in the working of it. There are cer- 


tain apparent anomalies in life and habit that must 
be taken into account in connexion with such matters. 
The philosopher could say that he was never less idle 
than when at leisure, nor less lonely than when alone. 
In like manner it may be said of some men, that they 
never do things so successfully as when they are busy, 
and that they never do them so ill as when they have 
little to do. There is something in the mental stimulus, 
the fillip given to the whole energies by abundant 
occupation, that causes everything that is undertaken 
by busy energetic men to be done with vigour, if they 
are not absolutely crushed by their labours ; and on the 
other hand, there is something in the unconcentrated, 
unknit-up condition of a mind having little to do, that 
often causes that little to be done ill. Who has not 
felt in holiday time, when he was visiting a friend in 
the country, or spending his time in rambles or pic 
nic tours, that it was an effort to write a single letter, 
whereas in his ordinary working mood he might throw 
off a dozen letters, and do four times as much other 
work without any irksome feeling ? This indicates the 
danger men incur of turning lazy, mentally as well as 
physically, in small charges. System is needed in its 
own way in the small as well as in the large ; the two 
talents are to be diligently improved as well as the five ; 
and the rule of the kingdom is, " He that is faithful in 
that which is least, is faithful also in much " (Luke xvi. 
10) : " Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he 
shall have abundance ; but from him that hath not, 
shall be taken even that which he hath " (Matt. xxv. 29). 
There is another great recommendation of system. 
It has a wonderful effect in reconciling one to what at 
first is irksome, and even causing one to do it with 
pleasure. If the work of visitation be naturally irk- 


some, and no systematic method of prosecuting it be 
adopted, each time that it is attempted the sense of 
irksomeness will be renewed. But if a system bs 
adopted, and conscientiously followed, it will be other 
wise. The preliminary struggle with inclination will 
hardly be felt. This is the advantage of making up 
your mind to anything naturally disagreeable. You 
have settled that the thing must be, and inclination, as 
if it were a sentient being, seems to shrink from a con 
test in which defeat is inevitable ; so, when you work 
faithfully upon a plan, the fact that it is a settled 
plan seems to scatter your enemies. And this is not 
all. "There is no fact," says Dr. Shedd, "in the 
Christian experience better established than that the 
faithful performance of labour, from conscience, ends in 
its being performed with relish and pleasure. Con 
science is finally wrought into the will in a vital 
synthesis. Law in the end becomes an impulse instead 
of a commandment." l 

A few observations may now be offered on the prac 
tical following out of pastoral visitation in both its 

1. And first, of the regular visitation of families. 
How this can be best accomplished in all cases it 
hardly becomes any one man to attempt to determine. 

It is one of the points on which every minister must 
become wise through his own experience and the teach 
ing of God s Spirit, and on which brethren who are 
accustomed to speak often one to another, will advan 
tageously exchange thoughts and experience when they 
have been for some time engaged in the work. 

If notice has been given of the minister s intention 
to visit at a certain hour, it is evident that something 
1 Pastoral Theology, p. 393. 


more than a mere visit of friendship or courtesy will be 
looked for. The minister, it will be felt, has come for 
the purpose of promoting the spiritual and eternal 
welfare of the family, and therefore the sooner he 
addresses himself to his errand the better. Some 
ministers are willing to prolong the preliminary con 
versation, in the hope that they will be able, after a 
time, to lead off the minds of the family to more 
serious thoughts, by building on something that comes 
up casually. And no doubt, if one has skill enough, 
this is the best method, provided the^ members of the 
family are not struck with silence the moment one 
touches what is serious, but are willing to continue the 
conversation. For, as Archbishop Whately remarks, 
the true idea of pastoral intercourse implies that the 
pastor is " not merely to speak, but to listen, and to 
encourage his people to open their minds freely to him, 
and that too, not on their spiritual concerns only, but 
on any others also on which they naturally and allow 
ably feel much interest, and have a craving for sym 
pathy." l But when once he gets into the current of 
temporal things, there is a great risk of his being so 
carried along, that it is only by an abrupt and awk 
ward jerk that he can cross over to the spiritual region; 
and in that case whatever he may say or do is apt to 
be set down as a mere homage to professional propriety, 
not the spontaneous outcome of a heart charged with 
its message. To avoid this risk it is often desirable 
for the minister, after a brief salutation and kindly 
inquiry after the welfare of the household, to proceed 
at once, like Abraham s servant at Padan-aram, to tell 
his errand, to do what he has come to do. In speaking 
to the household he may find a point of departure by 

1 The Parish Pastor, p. 9. 


saying why he has come, adverting to the exceeding 
solemnity of spiritual things, and to the importance 
not of a mere general, but of a special application of 
what is said from the pulpit, so that no one may suffer 
the appeal to go past him, or think he does right while 
he fails to receive the message of God. Something 
may be said applicable to the circumstances of the 
different portions of the family, the heads, the chil 
dren, older and younger, the servants when there are 
such. Of the children questions may be asked, and 
are probably expected to be asked ; but let the minister 
avoid countenancing the impression which some foolish 
parents are prone to encourage when they terrify their 
children with the minister s visit, and tell them how 
he will pour out his wrath on them if they cannot 
correctly repeat the catechism. 

It w r ill not be amiss too to bear in mind that very 
often there is a tendency on the part of people to think 
of ministers as beings awfully solemn, with but little 
of human sympathy, men to be dreaded as stern re 
provers, instead of respected and loved as affectionate 
and sympathetic guides. In pastoral visitation, there 
fore, let there be shown a frankness, a cordiality, a 
humility of spirit, a winning brotherly-kindness that 
shall dissipate such an impression and tend to gain the 
confidence of all. 

All pastors will admit that to draw out the members 
of a family into frank conversation on religious subjects 
is one of the most difficult and rare achievements. It 
is so difficult that most give it up in despair. It is not 
mere earnestness that succeeds here. There is needed 
much tact and knowledge of the human heart, especially 
of what on the one hand sends it shrinking into its 
shell, and of what on the other draws it out, like a 


flower opening to the sun. Among those things which 
are most useful in drawing men out, the records of 
other men s struggles and experiences have an impor 
tant place. Suppose you speak on the duty of the 
devout daily reading of the Scriptures, you may get 
no response. But suppose you speak of Luther, and 
his best hours given to reading and prayer, or of John 
Knox reading the whole psalter once every month, and 
a daily portion of the Bible besides, you introduce a 
medium which makes conversation easier. It is a sort of 
thread round which conversation may crystallize. For 
myself, let me say, if I were now beginning a ministry, 
I should feel it of immense value to store my memory 
with facts derived from Christian biography, and simi 
lar sources, to be used from time to time in promoting 
pastoral conversation, and making it at once profitable 
and easy. 

It must be owned, at the same time, that there is 
sometimes a crass stolidity about the people whom a 
pastor visits, on which it is impossible to make an im 
pression. While some families exert themselves to meet 
their minister half-way, and make it both easy and 
pleasant for him to deal with them in his pastoral 
capacity, others are singularly apathetic and chilling, 
responding in heartless monosyllables to his efforts to 
engage them in conversation, as if it were their very 
object to keep him as far from their hearts as possible. 
If people generally knew something of the minister s 
difficulties in pastoral visitation, they would think more 
how they might practically help to remove them. 

It may be remarked here in passing, that the art of 
conversation, and social intercourse at large, is one in 
which students generally are defective. They are so 
accustomed to conversation in their own circle alone, 


that when they are thrown into social contact with 
others, they find nothing in common, and therefore no 
materials for conversation. The art of social intercourse 
is one of the most important parts of unconventional 
education, being the art of getting into contact with 
minds unlike oar own, and forming a bond that shall 
dispose them to look more favourably upon our views 
of spiritual things. 

To return to pastoral visitation. Indispensable though 
we hold this practice to be in small congregations, and 
desirable, where practicable, in large, it is obviously 
to be regarded at the same time as a duty inferior to 
that of the pulpit, and not to be allowed to interfere 
with its efficiency. Some preachers of great mark and 
efficiency have deliberately, and from a deep sense of 
duty, abstained from undertaking much work of this 
kind. Among these was President Edwards. His 
reason for not engaging in it was, not that he did 
not feel its importance, but that he deemed himself 
unqualified for it, and considered that his time was 
spent to greater advantage in his study, to which he 
usually gave twelve hours a day. 1 A preacher of a 
very different type, the late Mr. Jay of Bath, in like 
manner restricted his pastoral visitation within much 
narrower limits than was agreeable to his flock. In 
his autobiography, Mr. Jay, without wholly justifying 
himself, says that to some extent this omission was 
voluntary, as he thought that much more was expected 
of him than was reasonable, and that it was consequence 
rather than improvement that was affected by disap 
pointment. He says that he deliberately abstained 
from following the example of three classes of pastoral 
visitors. " 1. The smokers, or smoking ministers, who 

1 D wight s Life of Edwards. 


were furnished with a pretty pipe, and its usual con 
comitant at ever} 7 house of call : [thereby setting their 
people the example of an act of self-indulgence, which 
is certainly not the spirit that the minister of 
Christ is called to foster]. 2. The listless, who like 
to lounge about people s houses, rather than bind 
themselves down to diligent study. 3. The truly pious, 
who wished to do good, but were often less useful 
than they wished or imagined. Many of these have 
not the oily slang of religious phrases ; they are not 
apt at free and appropriate address, or turning all 
incidents to profitable account ; yet they might preach 
to advantage had they time and leisure for reading and 
meditation." l Mr. Jay saw likewise that the visits of 
ministers were not always convenient, and therefore 
not always acceptable. As to set dinner and tea enter 
tainments, his observation was, that it was almost 
impossible to commence or maintain discourse by 
which one could either gain good or do good. Social 
meetings he deemed useful enough for social purposes, 
for promoting good neighbourhood and social pleasure, 
but beyond that he had little faith in them. 

2. The visitation of the sick and afflicted is one of the 
most interesting, one of the most blessed, and one of 
the most precious of the duties of a minister. It affords 
rare opportunities for the formation of most affectionate 
bonds ties hallowed by the tenderest associations. He 
who has ever been attracted to their dwellings by the 
intelligence of any kind of distress or sorrow he on 
whose face they have ever seen the expression of a 
brother s sympathy, and eagerness to help he to whom 
they have always felt encouraged to tell of their sor 
rows and their burdens, knowing that his heart would 

1 Autobiography of JRcr. Win. Jay, p. 154. 


be open to the doleful tale he who has led them to 
the throne of grace on every occasion of distress, and 
sought for them the oil of joy for mourning, and the 
garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness he, by 
whose ministrations the deathbed of a dear parent or 
partner has been cheered, the eye of a stricken son or 
daughter turned to the Cross, and the chill terror of 
death has given place to the calm joy and confidence 
of faith, can never be an object of indifference to those 
to whom, in the darkest passages of life, he has been 
the instrument of so much blessing. Let a minister 
have an affectionate Christian heart, and be ready at 
all times to show his warm sympathy for those of his 
flock who are in trouble, such a man will be loved by 
his people, and will have a degree of influence with 
them inexplicable to those who do not know how 
the burdened heart appreciates sympathy in dark and 
cloudy days. 

But there is a snare to be guarded against in this 
very fact. The object of the minister in visiting the 
sick is not merely to express his sympathy, or to show 
them ordinary kindness. It is to turn the occasion into 
one of spiritual good. It is to show them how God is 
dealing with them, and to cause them to hear the voice 
of the rod. It is his duty to remind them of the oppor 
tunity of meditation and self-examination which the 
sickness affords, and to urge them to improve it in the 
way of considering whether their hearts have ever re 
sponded to the call of God, and whether they have been 
making a business of their sanctification, following 
peace with all men, and holiness, without which no 
man shall see the Lord. Where the sickness seems 
likely to be mortal, and where there is no evidence of 
due preparation for death, the duty of the minister is 



alike solemn and delicate. How to let the sick person 
know of the bodily danger, and the still greater danger 
of the soul how to guide his mind during the few 
weeks, or it may be only days or hours of life that 
remain to him, so that by God s blessing the great 
change may be wrought how to get other influences 
to conspire best with that of the minister himself in 
order to the securing of this glorious result, are ques 
tions of awful solemnity, only to be resolved in the 
spirit of most earnest prayer. What magnifies the 
difficulty is the terror in which relatives often stand 
lest anything be said fitted to agitate the sufferer; 
and the injunctions to the same effect of some medical 
advisers, who, in their anxiety for the recovery of the 
body, do not always think of the eternal welfare of the 
soul. To attain the utmost faithfulness, and yet the 
utmost tenderness in such a case to leave nothing un 
said that, by God s blessing, may be of use to the soul, 
and nothing undone in respect of tenderness and gentle 
ness of tone and manner that may prevent undue agita 
tion or opposition, involves a strain upon our best and 
holiest energies, under which we could not but sink if 
we did not fall back on words like these : " My grace 
is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in 

And there is still another difficulty. It is the glorious 
doctrine of our religion that the door of mercy is ever 
open, and that the finished work of Christ is ever avail 
able for the sinner. But there is a way, sometimes, 
of exhibiting this glorious truth that is objectionable. 
The atonement of Christ is sometimes presented to the 
Protestant in much the same way as the crucifix is 
presented to the Papist. The impression is apt to be 
produced, either on the dying man or on his friends, 


that there is in that truth a kind of talismanic virtue ; 
that it forms a sort of " open sesame" to let one into 
heaven. One needs to be very careful to let it be 
understood that what you offer the sinner is not a 
charm, but a living Saviour ; and that what gives value 
to that " looking unto Jesus" which you urge is, that 
spiritually the sinner becomes one with him, and being 
emptied of self and filled with Christ, becomes inwardly 
as well as formally a child of God. The utmost care 
must be taken not to let the impression be formed, 
especially on ignorant minds, that salvation turns on 
something like a mechanical act, something like the 
signing of a paper, only done with the head instead of 
the hand. To counteract this, the fulness and spiritu 
ality of the Christian salvation needs to be earnestly 
dwelt on. 

It is no doubt an exceeding great privilege for a 
minister to be the means of saving a dying sinner from 
the second death, and yet his harvest work should be 
regarded only as beginning when the tomb has closed 
over the departed one. The bereaved family, for the 
next few weeks or months, will afford a most interest 
ing and hopeful field for his Christian efforts ; for when 
death enters the family circle and carries off one with 
whom all our lives have been intertwined, there is left 
on the survivors a peculiarly strong sense of desolation 
the vanity of earth, the realities of eternity, the odious- 
ness of sin, the preciousness of redemption, come home 
with unusual force, and the heart is peculiarly suscep 
tible of impressions that may issue in conversion. This 
is just to say that the Holy Spirit is dealing with the 
heart ; a divine Visitor is at hand : " Behold, I stand at 
the door and knock." To try to have these impressions 
confirmed, so as to issue in true and final decision for 


Christ to urge a course of Christian habits, of reading 
and prayer, and perhaps some species of Christian work, 
is the natural direction of the minister s efforts and 
prayers after some great bereavement. For in point of 
fact it is commonly found, that even those who have 
been well brought up need the discipline of trial to 
bring them to decision, and that it is out of such dis 
cipline that the greater part of the piety among us 
actually springs. 

Besides sickness and death, there are many other 
kinds of distress of which the Christian minister may 
and probably ought to take notice. Sometimes he is 
made the confidant of his people, and sorrows are 
poured into his ear preying upon their very vitals, all 
the more hard to bear because they have to be locked 
up in their own bosoms. Sometimes he hears a tale of 
domestic unfaithfulness, or of family strife ; in trying 
to be at once tender and faithful, and not make things 
worse in the attempt to make them better, his tact and 
wisdom are taxed to the uttermost. And sometimes a 
revelation unsuspected and most horrible is made to 
him : he is told how a fatal plague-spot has shown 
itself in the character of the fine young man that pro 
mised to be the joy and pride of his family, and the 
anguish -stricken parents appeal to him for help. Pos 
sibly he has the still more terrible task of being called 
to comfort in a case where no comfort, but only sub 
mission, is possible where sudden death has cut off a 
loved but erring one in the midst of his sins, and the 
desolate parents are prostrated under the burden of 
their very faith ; when their clear vivid view of the 
eternal world is like to drive them to distraction, in 
stead of brightening their hopes. It may not be often 
that the Christian minister is brought into contact with 


these, the most fearful tragedies of life ; for happily it 
is not every day that one so tender-hearted as David is 
called to mourn for a son killed in the act of rebellion, 
or that the air is rent with the cry, " Would God that 
I had died for thee, Absalom, my son, my son !" 
But experience teaches us that the world is very full of 
disappointment. Many is the heart where that lump 
of lead lies at the bottom, though it may not be allowed 
to show itself. Many is the crushed affection, many 
are the withered leaves that strew life s common paths. 
Many is the parental disappointment, although perhaps 
the parent hardly remembers that at one time brighter 
dreams floated before his fancy, now gone for ever. 
Many a leafless branch waves in the cold north wind, 
and the time has gone past for fresh buds of hope to 
form, and unfold in tufts of living green. Experience 
of life compels us to look abroad on our people with 
a more tender, a more sympathetic spirit ; we think 
how much disappointment has to do with the harsher 
and sterner features that disfigure their character. It 
were miserable if this experience did not also intensify 
our desires for their Christian good ; if, seeing them 
hovering disappointed about the broken cisterns, we 
did not try more earnestly to bring them to the foun 
tain of living water, cheering them with words more 
potent than any charm "He that drinketh of this 
water shall thirst again ; but he that drinketh of the 
water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; but the 
water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of 
water, springing up into everlasting life." 



IT may be a question whether the memorable charge 
of our Lord to Peter, " Feed my lambs," had reference 
to the case of children, or whether the class indicated 
was not rather that of young disciples, babes in Christ, 
imperfectly instructed in his doctrine. But there is no 
question that the case of the young demands very 
special attention from every faithful pastor ; and as 
little is there a question that holy effort in this direc 
tion is for the most part eminently useful and amply 
blessed. Many is the pastor, and many the missionary, 
who, when disheartened by the settled indifference or the 
settled wickedness of the older section of their people, 
have turned wistfully and hopefully to the young ; as 
if there was nothing for it but that the carcases of the 
older generation should fall in the wilderness, and their 
children only, with their more soft and tender hearts, 
should receive God s grace, and possess the land. 

The Christian Church in our age has awaked to a 
sense of its relation to the young. What is the precise 
standing of baptized children in the Christian Church 
is a question that has caused not a little speculation, 
and that is still involved in considerable mist. This is 
not the place to consider the bearing of baptism on the 


spiritual state of the children, or on the duties or the 
hopes of parents who have dedicated them in that 
ordinance to Christ ; but it is quite suitable that we 
should advert to the relation in which baptism places 
children to the minister and to the church. Baptized 
children become members of the visible church. They 
are an integral part of our congregations, and it is our 
duty to look on them as such, especially when we meet 
for worship. They ought to be present to our minds 
as a part of that large family with whom and for whom 
we unite in the worship of God. Their sins and in 
firmities, as well as those of the older members, ought 
to be in our thought in our public confessions ; their 
preservation, health, and well-being generally, ought to 
swell our thanksgivings ; and their difficulties, tempta 
tions, and trials, especially in connexion with the 
service of God, ought to be before us in our supplica 
tions at the throne. Their edification, too, ought to be 
considered in our preaching, in so far as that can be 
secured without loss to others ; and the winning of 
them to Christ, and their confirmation and establish 
ment as living members of the church, ought constantly 
to be contemplated both by office-bearers and members 
in their intercourse with them. It is quite true that 
our feelings and actings ought to be very much the 
same towards all children, whether they have been 
baptized or not ; the difference in the case of baptized 
children being, that the obligation has been formally 
and deliberately acknowledged by us in a solemn and 
public ordinance, so that baptized children may claim 
from us as a right those Christian attentions which 
come to others simply in the way of favour. 

The young persons in an ordinary congregation fall 
into two classes according to their age children, and 


young men and women. The pastoral methods appli 
cable to each are somewhat different. 

I. CHILDREN. Confining our attention to the duties 
of the Minister, we may inquire first, what regard 
ought to be had to the case of children in the ordinary 
services of the congregation ; and second, whether any 
special services or meetings ought to be held for their 

1. As to the ordinary services. It is the custom of 
some ministers to assign a particular part of each dis 
course to the children, or to conclude with a general 
application to them of the subject on which they have 
been preaching. But if either of these methods is 
adopted as a stated practice, it can hardly fail to have 
the effect of leading the children to believe that there 
is little or no obligation on them to give attention to 
the other parts of the sermon. An occasional appeal 
to children in the middle or at the close of an ordinary 
sermon, in the winning tone of voice by which children 
are usually addressed, may be exceedingly useful ; but 
as a rule, it is hard upon a preacher to be obliged 
abruptly to change his level, and come down to the 
capacity of little children, as well as undesirable both 
for the children and the congregation generally. Would 
it not be better that discourses generally were constructed 
in such a way as not to be wholly beyond the reach of 
children ? If the structure were simple, the style clear, 
and the tone of voice natural ; if the lines of Scripture 
were followed closely, if illustrations abounded, and 
other faculties besides the reason were habitually ap 
pealed to, an intelligent child might very soon find 
much to interest him in an ordinary sermon. The 
habit of attention would then be formed, and though 
there would be much in the sermon beyond his grasp, 


his capacity of understanding would be constantly 
growing. Our Lord s parables, for example, in their 
external aspect, were as easily followed by the young 
as by the old, nor does he appear to have found it 
necessary to address grown people at one time and 
children at another. He appears to have had a wonder 
ful power of arresting both ; and had we been present 
when he delivered such a discourse as that of the sheep 
and the goats, we should probably have found that the 
eye was as closely riveted, and the attention as 
thoroughly secured, in the case of the children as in 
that of the grey-bearded men or careworn women that 
pressed so eagerly to hear him. 

2. Separate services for children may assume various 
forms. In the first place, there may be occasional ser 
mons, expressly addressed to them. Where there are 
two regular meetings of the congregation for public 
worship, there can be no reasonable objection to one 
of these being occasionally appropriated to the children. 
If we are to deal with children effectually on spiritual 
subjects, two physical conditions are indispensable : 
first, that the minds of the children be fresh, and 
second, that the same be true of the preacher. An ex 
hausted preacher, or an exhausted audience, will be 
associated with wandering attention on the part of the 
children, ending, most probably, in their falling asleep. 
There is more likelihood of obtaining a fresh preacher 
and a fresh audience, if the sermon to the young is at 
an ordinary hour, and not at a supernumerary meeting. 

Successful preachers to the young place themselves 
at once, by an instinctive process, en rapport with their 
audience ; find the level of their thoughts and feelings ; 
lay hold and keep hold of their attention through 
avenues that they know to be open ; and press them 


with the degree and kind of force which they feel to be 
likely to succeed. The process hardly admits of 
specific rules. A good preacher to the young, however, 
will be careful to choose a text short, bright, striking ; 
the arrangement will be simple, and the heads as 
obvious and as easily to be remembered as possible ; a 
large part of his sermon will be illustration, and he 
will be specially careful to make a specific and not a 
vague application. Above all things he will study to 
speak in a natural tone of voice. His performance will 
be at the furthest possible remove from that of an 
essay read before an audience ; most emphatically it 
will be a word spoken to them. In preaching to 
children, one can easily get rid of the fear of man 
which bringeth a snare, and without dread of offence 
say things which one might shrink from uttering 
face to face with the old. There is a directness and 
point in such preaching that often contrasts very favour 
ably with the unnatural tones and vague circumlocu 
tions of ordinary discourses. Many a grown-up person 
feels that his mind gets instruction from the simple 
explanations of doctrine given to the children, and that 
his conscience is quickened by the direct appeals made 
to them on duty. The relish for " bairns hymns " 
which marked the dying hours of Dr. Guthrie is often 
paralleled by a relish for " bairns sermons," even in the 
healthy hours of grown-up men. A successful preacher 
to the young rouses in older persons feelings that 
never grow old, and brings back to them something of 
the consciousness of childhood, the happy season of 
golden dreams, which, though dashed in the meantime, 
are nevertheless destined to a fulfilment more glorious 
than this life could ever have given. 

In preaching to the young, many American ministers 


have been highly successful ; such men as Dr. Todd of 
Pittsville and Dr. Newton of Philadelphia have at 
tained the first rank in this department of work. The 
American mind has such a proclivity to sharp, terse 
forms of expression, clever analogies and illustrations, 
keen analysis of feelings, vivid description and warm 
colouring, that we do not wonder that it should excel 
in addresses to which such qualities contribute so 

Another form of service or exercise for children, 
adopted by some ministers, is that of an examination, 
occurring about once a month, and based on the sermon 
which precedes it, or on some subject that has been 
prescribed. While this method is exposed to the draw 
back of necessarily finding the children somewhat 
exhausted, if they have given attention to the public 
service that has preceded it, it possesses the advantage, 
on the other hand, of allowing the minister to ascertain 
how far the discourse or the subject of examination has 
been understood by them. It gives him the opportunity 
of finding out w r hat amount of knowledge they have 
actually attained, and, though with less certainty, what 
impression has been made on their hearts. 

We do not enter in this place into the subject of 
Sunday-schools, or into that of "children s churches," 
as those meetings have been called, which, being held at 
the hour of public worship, come in its place to the 
children for whom they are designed. Our subject is the 
work of the minister, and it is evident that except in 
the way of general oversight, the minister can take no 
more than an occasional part in these. The children s 
church is an interesting experiment in the art of at 
taching to Sabbath ordinances masses of children who 
would not otherwise acquire the habit of church-going, 


and in the art of framing services in which there is a 
fair prospect of children taking an intelligent and lively 
part. The experiment has been too short to enable us 
to judge as to its permanent effects. One thing, how 
ever, is obvious ; the pleas sometimes advanced in its 
favour cast a somewhat painful reflection on the pre 
vailing dulness of the pulpit. If the children s church 
can be expected to have the result of permanently 
introducing many children, otherwise sure to neglect 
them, to the ordinary services of the Sanctuary, these 
services must receive a new element of liveliness, other 
wise children trained at the livelier meetings will not 
attend them. And this is but one of many considera 
tions that go to prove what a great desideratum liveli 
ness is in our public services at the present day; no 
danger to which they are exposed is so great as that of 
becoming useless through their own heaviness. 

Whatever plan may be followed by the minister, 
it is very desirable that, without taking any heavy 
burden upon him, he should have some mode of coming 
occasionally into contact with the children. It is of 
great importance that he should come to know and to 
love them, that they too should come to know and to 
love him, and that both should feel that they have to 
do with each other. It is worth while too, to consider 
whether the old law of the Scotch Church might not be 
revived, by which all the children of a congregation 
were required to be examined by the minister at the 
several ages of nine, twelve, and fourteen. The Scotch 
Church has always been most desirous to secure the 
godly up-bringing of the young. If the older methods 
were marked by more authoritative strictness, and 
the modem possess more of affection and attraction, 
it is well to remember that each element has its own 


place, and that a judicious combination of both is the 
consummation most to be desired. 

II. While the detailed religious instruction of the 
children must be carried on chiefly by their parents 
and others in the congregation, the case of young men 
and young women ought to engage much more of the 
minister s own time and energies. 

The practice of catechizing the young is coeval 
with the dawn of Christianity. St. Luke in the intro 
duction to his Gospel refers to the catechetical training 
of Theophilus " that thou mightest know the certainty 
of the things wherein thou hast been catechetically 
instructed (Karrj^drj^)." Catechetical lectures, as we 
have seen, formed an important feature of the public 
services of the patristic church, the process of ques 
tion and answer probably following the delivery of 
the discourse. The skilful use of the question is 
beyond all doubt what gives most value to the Bible 
class. The benefits of this mode of instruction, when 
conducted with skill and animation, and not turned 
into a mere preaching, are many. (1.) It enables one 
to give a backbone to the religious training of the 
young, so that the truths of Christianity shall be appre 
hended in their relations and connexions, and not lie in 
a confused heap in the mind. (2.) It gives the minister 
an opportunity of perceiving what is apprehended, and 
what is misunderstood by those whom he has to instruct. 
(3.) It sets in motion the mental faculties of the young, 
trains them to digest their spiritual food. (4.) It 
brings the minister and his young people into close, 
interesting, and most profitable contact at the period of 
life when they are most susceptible of being influenced 
by him. (5.) And it secures to him, in the course of a 
generation, a trained and instructed audience, by whom 


the ordinary pulpit ministrations will be much more 
appreciated, and who will be carried much further on 
in the knowledge of divine truth. 

So manifold are the benefits of catechizing, that in 
the olden time, when the authority of the church was 
more fully and readily recognised than it is now, the 
catechizing of all the people in detachments or districts 
was one of the regular duties of the ministry. In some 
parts of the country the practice is still maintained. 
Having begun my ministry in a country parish where 
all and sundry attended the " diets of catechizing," I 
can certify that they were not attended with the 
awkwardness that might have been supposed. The 
people, however, were unsophisticated, with little 
trace of social distinctions : farmers and their servants 
being much the same in education, dress, and manners. 
But as it might not now be practicable, even if it were 
wise, and as it would not be wise even if it were practi 
cable, to unite persons of all ages and ranks in one 
promiscuous catechizing, we will speak of the practice 
only in connexion with that part of his people whom a 
minister may reckon on to take part in it young men 
and young women. 

In country congregations, and where the people are 
engaged in hard manual labour, it is commonly difficult 
to form Bible classes except on the Lord s Day. While 
this doubtless entails a heavy task on a minister s 
strength, it has an advantage on the other hand, for 
the minds of the young persons are more likely to be 
in a suitable frame for taking part in the exercises of 
the class than they probably would be in a week 
day evening. Let it be understood at the same time 
that well- taught classes will attract a considerable 
attendance on any evening, and that sometimes the 


reason why a Bible class collapses is, that it is so poorly 
conducted as to be hardly worth attending. 

The question now presents itself What is the best 
mode of conducting a Bible class ? To this question the 
very name of the class furnishes the first part of the 
answer. Undoubtedly, the Word of God should have 
prominence here as in the public services of the sanc 
tuary. The opening up of the Scriptures in a some 
what more analytic way than the pulpit admits of 
affords an admirable opportunity to the minister to 
adapt himself to the cravings and capacities of the 
young. So many subjects present themselves that the 
difficulty lies in selecting. The life of Christ; the 
Miracles, the Parables ; the Acts of the Apostles ; an 
Epistle, like Romans or Hebrews ; Bible biography ; 
Bible history ; Bible geography ; Bible typology ; Bible 
prophecy are all susceptible of most interesting treat 
ment in a Bible class. The ease and familiarity with 
which such a class is conducted admits of many things 
being introduced in the way of illustration and in the 
way of application which could hardly be spoken from 
the pulpit. And a minister may be very plain and 
very earnest in pressing truth on the conscience of 
individual members of the class. 

In a church which possesses such a summary of 
doctrine and duty as the Shorter Catechism, the exposi 
tion of that symbol ought surely to have a leading place 
in classes for young men and women. We say this 
deliberately, without being indiscriminate admirers of 
the Catechism. Undoubtedly its tone is somewhat 
hard and cold, and we cannot but regret the absence of 
allusion to the free offer of the Gospel, or of that view 
of redemption indicated in the glorious words of our 
Lord, " God so loved the world, that he gave his only 


begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should 
not perish, but have everlasting life" (John iii. 16). 
But notwithstanding its defects, we question if any 
treatise of the size ever contained a larger measure of 
truth, expressed in clear and careful language. Its bold 
announcement of man s chief end impresses us like 
a great stroke of genius at the beginning. Its defini 
tions of effectual calling, justification, the offices of 
Christ, faith, repentance, the sacraments, and prayer, are 
in themselves theological treatises, each a multum in 
parvo, like those hardly visible photographs to which the 
microscope may be applied at its highest magnifying 
power, without the discovery of a trace of what is super 
fluous or unmeaning. Helps for elucidating its mean 
ing are abundant. Thomas Vincent s explanation, though 
two hundred years old, is not yet antiquated, nor 
Eichard Watson s, with its ample store of illustration, 
furnished liberally from the resources of a well-read and 
well- equipped mind. Matthew Henry s questions are 
so constructed as to be all answered in the language of 
Scripture ingenious, but of little use for real cate 
chizing. Fisher, one of the early Seceders, goes deep 
into questions of doctrine, while Paterson sets the 
example of analytical treatment, which is more in 
accordance with the modern idea in teaching. Such 
helps may be used as helps, chiefly in one s own study ; 
the teacher who uses them in his class will find that he 
gets but lamely along. The great thing in opening up 
a question is to state clearly and strongly its main pro 
position or subject ; then to indicate the various par 
ticulars which enter into the statement regarding it ; 
then to establish, illustrate, and apply each ; and 
finally, to show how they all converge on the proposi 
tion affirmed. While you thus deal with the subject, 


care must be taken to interest your class; let the 
attempt be made to stimulate thought, and get them to 
exercise their minds ; give them points to explain and 
difficulties to investigate : ask them the reason for this 
and the meaning of that ; let the drier work of the class 
be relieved by copious illustration ; and let the minister 
study to be animated and cheerful in his manner, and 
interesting in his style. 

There are other subjects which have often been in 
troduced with advantage in Bible -classes. Books have 
been used like The Pilgrim s Progress, Paley s Natural 
Theology, Keith s Evidence of Prophecy, Hodge s Way of 
Life, and even, in very select cases, Butler s Analogy, 
and the Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation. But such 
subjects, or at least the majority of them, are suitable 
only in particular cases ; and the minister must exer 
cise his own judgment as to the fit circumstances in 
which to resort to them. 

Occasional written exercises are a most useful ap 
pendage to a Bible-class, and are contributed readily 
when the scholars have had a tolerable education. On 
the other hand, if writing and spelling are a terror to 
them, such exercises cannot be expected, except peculiar 
encouragement be given to make the trial. 

It needs hardly to be observed that for the business 
of such a class, careful preparation is indispensable on 
the part of the minister. Nay, something in the form 
of written preparation may be urged. To write out the 
leading questions, and make jottings of the explanations 
and illustrations employed will commonly be of very 
great service. It will be found to freshen the business 
very materially, if he can introduce incidents of the day, 
or passages from miscellaneous reading, to throw light 
on the matter in hand. The trouble that may be taken 



at first in preparation for such a class will be amply 
repaid in the subsequent years of his ministry. 

Under such a scheme of instruction, with the blessing 
of God, a minister can hardly fail to train a superior 
order of young people. Only he must beware of think 
ing or of leading them to think that his chief object is 
to instruct. In opening such a class it ought to be 
announced broadly that the great aim is to secure not 
their instruction merely, but their salvation. All 
through, this aim must be kept in mind. The opening 
prayer must ever recognise it, and the young persons 
should be made to feel that this is looked for. Personal 
and kindly dealing, one by one, with the members of a 
class so conducted, is usually of the greatest avail. 
Decision for Christ is often the blessed consequence ; 
and at an early period, the young minister is often per 
mitted to reap the first-fruits of the coming harvest. 

When thus conducted, the Bible-class becomes the 
natural forerunner of a second meeting for Christian 
instruction and influence. 

The class for young communicants. Properly speak 
ing, this is rather a class for Christian influence than 
instruction. The candidate for communion ought to 
be already well versed in the fundamental truths of 
the Gospel ; and the special business of the communion 
class, if there are so many as to require a class, should 
be that of dealing with the conscience and the heart 
with a view not only to prevent unworthy com 
municating, but to promote an enlightened, happy and 
most profitable fellowship with Christ at his Table. 
But it is not easy to secure that no persons shall offer 
themselves as communicants but those who have passed 
through the Bible- classes. In such a case, it seems 
desirable that the minister should explain the more 


vital questions in the Catechism such as effectual 
calling, justification, faith in Jesus Christ, making sure 
in this way that the doctrinal foundation is firmly laid. 
Therefore it will be well to go over, fully and carefully, 
the questions on the Sacraments in general, and that 
on the Lord s Supper in particular, supplementing the 
Shorter Catechism by the additional questions in the 
Larger ; to open up," very searchingly, the words of insti 
tution, dwelling on the two acts first the taking, and 
then the eating and drinking, as the key to the whole; 
to read, along with this, certain very practical chapters, 
such as John iii. or Ephesians ii., where the heavenly 
origin and inward nature of the Christian Life are 
clearly set forth, closing with a portion of the Song of 
Solomon, or with the forty-fifth Psalm, to illustrate the 
more fragrant aspects of fellowship with Christ. It is 
right to aim not only at rousing the conscience and the 
heart all through, but specially by conversation and 
prayer with every candidate, both at the beginning and 
the close of the class, to endeavour to learn something 
of their state, and to advise accordingly. It is a time of 
remarkable dealing of the Holy Spirit with the hearts of 
young persons ; the conscience is tender ; they will bear 
any amount of earnest dealing ; it is a sort of high-tide 
in their spiritual history, a time of peculiar sensibility, 
on the improvement of which the most precious results 
depend. A short printed paper, expressing the nature 
of the profession made and the obligations incurred by 
communicants may be put into the hands of each ; and 
when the consent of all parties involved has been ob 
tained to their admission, the minister and elders will 
admit them, commending them by solemn prayer to the 
grace of God. Manuals for young communicants are 
very abundant, but in most cases they are too compli- 


cated, and are apt to bewilder the novice, and to distract 
his attention from the one great business of the Lord s 
Supper receiving Christ and feeding on him. The 
best manual is the words of institution (Matt. xxvi. 
26 ; 1 Cor. xi. 24). Perhaps the best commentary on 
these words is the question, "What is the Lord s 
Supper ?" 1 The best form of self-examination, " What 
is required of them that would worthily partake of the 
Lord s Supper ?" 5 The best help for solving the doubts 
of the timid, " May one who doubteth of his being a 
Christian or of his due preparation, come to the Lord s 
Table?" 3 And the best directory for the subsequent 
improvement of the ordinance is the answer in the 
Larger Catechism to the question, " What is the duty 
of Christians after they have received the Sacrament of 
the Lord s Supper ? " 4 

1 "The Lord s Supper is a sacrament wherein, by giving and 
receiving bread and wine according to Christ s appointment, his 
death is showed forth ; and the worthy receivers are, not after a 
corporal and carnal manner but by faith, made partakers of 
Christ s body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual 
nourishment and growth in grace." 

2 " It is required of them that would worthily partake of the 
Lord s Supper that they examine themselves of their knowledge to 
discern the Lord s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their 
repentance, love, and new obedience ; lest, coming unworthily, they 
eat and drink judgment to themselves." 

3 " One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due pre 
paration to the sacrament of the Lord s Supper, may have true 
interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof, and in God s 
account hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the 
want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to 
depart from all iniquity, in which case (because promises are made, 
and this sacrament is appointed for the relief even of weak and 
doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labour to have 
doubts resolved ; and so doing, he may and ought to come to the 
Lord s Supper, that he may be further strengthened." 

4 " The duty of Christians ... is seriously to consider how they 
have behaved themselves therein, and with what success : if they 
find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the con 
tinuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfil their vows, and en- 


But it may happen that persons peculiarly situated 
offer themselves, particularly to the missionary-minister, 
in whose case some modification of the ordinary method 
must be resorted to. When grown-up persons well ad 
vanced in life make application, the minister s duty is 
often most difficult. It is peculiarly difficult if there 
be a want of spiritual perception in the applicants, an 
inability to comprehend the very meaning of the new 
birth, accompanied, as that often is, by the feeling that 
the reluctance of the minister to admit them is based 
on some suspicion that they are living in wickedness, 
or on some personal dislike to themselves. A tender 
hearted minister, placed in this dilemma, is most deeply. 
to be felt for. If possible, let him co-operate with the 
elders, and get them to share the responsibility, for it 
is not right that he should bear it alone. If even elders 
have not spirituality enough to sympathize with him, 
what can remain for him but to throw himself more 
unreservedly than ever upon his Master, and from him 
seek not only direction, but also the spirit of mingled 
tenderness and faithfulness ? Let me say, however, that 
much allowance ought to be made for persons in mature 
life coming forward with the desire to be communi 
cants. Allowance should be made for that feeling of 
reserve which holds so many in bondage and keeps their 
hearts so close ; for that nervous excitement which, even 
under a stolid look and manner, may be embarrassing 
and bewildering them ; and for that sense of shame which 

courage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but 
if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their pre 
paration to, and carriage at, the sacrament : in both which if they 
can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to 
wait for the fruit of it in due time : but if they see they have failed 
in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards 
with more care and diligence." 


is gendered by the fact of their coming comparatively 
so late in life acknowledging thereby their past re- 
missness. When we read the accounts of the baptism 
of John the Baptist, or of the admissions into the 
Church by the Apostles, we perceive that they acted on 
the principle of seldom shutting the door against those 
who applied. The circumstances of the times are not 
quite parallel ; to make application in those times was 
more of a test than it is now. But without sanctioning 
the practice of indiscriminate admission to the Lord s 
Supper, in all cases where the desire to become a com 
municant is expressed with apparent honesty by an 
adult, it ought, we think, to be treated with the largest 
measure of charity. Let the dealings with the con 
science be as earnest and faithful as possible ; but let 
an absolute refusal be the result only of a clear and 
insuperable sense of duty. It were a hard thing to 
keep from the Supper some sin-worn wasted soul, that 
can say but little about itself except that it is hungry 
and would fain taste the bread of life. 

The question is often put with eagerness, On what 
grounds ought the minister to decide whether or not to 
recommend the admission of applicants to the Supper ? 
The answer to this question is virtually to be found in 
the province which our church assigns to each of the 
three parties who ought to take part in examining him, 
previous to his admission the minister, the elders, and 
the applicant himself. It is the duty of the minister to 
examine into his knowledge ; it is the province of the 
elders to examine into his life and conversation ; and it 
is the province of the applicant himself to examine 
into the state of his heart. " Examine yourselves 
whether ye be in the faith." The minister is not 
therefore called on to come to a decision in favour of 


the applicant grounded on the state of his heart. But 
though not entitled to decide this question authorita 
tively, as the ground of his admission, he is both 
entitled and bound in a friendly way to warn and ex 
hort all not to come to the table unless they believe 
that they have in their hearts accepted the offer of 
the gospel. More particularly in the case of the young ; 
having watched over them as a nurse watches over her 
children, he cannot but have his own view of the state 
of their hearts, and it is seldom that a young candidate 
would be so reckless as to press forward in opposition 
to the friendly counsel of the minister. There is no 
duty in the discharge of which faithful and loving 
ministers have more searchings of heart, or are more 
powerfully reminded of the source of true preparation 
" Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith 
the Lord of hosts " (Zech. iv. 6). 



UNDER this head we purpose to embrace three classes 
of pastoral duties : 1. Those connected with marriages, 
baptisms, deaths, and similar occasions ; 2. Week-day 
meetings for prayer, exposition of Scripture, and pro 
motion of an interest in missions ; 3. Occasional special 
meetings for promoting a revival of religion, and elevat 
ing the standard of Christian life and practice. 

I. It is a noteworthy fact that the duty of the mini 
ster brings him into special contact with his people at 
every important crisis in their family history. If their 
minds be too dull and sluggish in their ordinary moods, 
they are shaken up into more activity on these un 
usual occasions, and present to an earnest minister a 
greater susceptibility of impression. He who watches 
for souls will be careful of these opportunities, and try 
much to turn them to profitable account. 

To begin with Marriage. The minister has not only 
a right to be present, but his services are indispensable, 
except on those rare occasions when people are satisfied 
with the ministry of the Eegistrar. In Scotland, where 
marriages are commonly celebrated in private houses, 
some pains is needed on the part of the officiating mini 
ster to give to the service its proper tone. Met on 
occasion of a marriage festivity, people like to dwell on 
its brightsome aspect, and were a minister to set him- 


self right in opposition to the festive current in which 
their feelings flow, he would only provoke an unprofit 
able and unpopular collision. Yet, on the other hand, 
even marriage has a grave and solemn side ; the com 
mencement of life s journey, even by the first pair in 
Eden, was a solemn as well as a gladsome event. It is 
so even still; and the skilful minister will find, be 
neath the festive current that bubbles and glitters on 
the surface, a deeper feeling that will awake to his 
call. To this more solemn spirit he makes his appeal 
during the formal service ; and it will not only not be 
out of place for him, but actually in keeping with the 
purpose of his presence, if he endeavours to keep it 
from being trampled on all the time he is there. The 
view thus brought out may operate as a check on that 
excess of frivolity which such occasions are apt to 
breed, and tend to secure that chastening of joy with a 
more solemn feeling which is appropriate to a life so 
short and so chequered as this, where even they that 
have wives must be as though they had not, and they 
that rejoice as though they rejoiced not, because the 
fashion of this world passeth away. 

The performance of marriage is one of the occasions 
in the Scottish Church, when, missing something of 
a liturgical form, the minister is led to construct one 
for himself. The necessity of brevity, neatness, and 
point makes this almost indispensable. A lumbering 
address and lumbering prayers are never more com 
pletely out of keeping. The service ought to begin with 
a short prayer, acknowledging God as the God alike of 
providence and of grace, casting ourselves as sinners 
on his mercy, and imploring his blessing, especially in 
connexion with his own ordinance of marriage. The 
address ought to be founded on the passage in the Old 


Testament where marriage is instituted, and one or 
other of the passages in the New which lay down the 
duties of the Christian husband and wife. Whatever 
counsels are founded on these ought to be brief, and 
may probably be best directed to impress the import 
ance of seeking God s blessing, as the one indispensable 
condition of all true happiness, prosperity, and peace. 
The question to the bride and bridegroom ought to be 
put in a solemn tone, and with a specific recognition of 
their being in the presence of God ; and when they are 
declared to be married persons, the declaration ought 
to be made in His name and by His authority. The 
concluding prayer will invoke the divine blessing on 
the married couple in all their interests, on soul and 
body, on their basket and on their store, on their going 
out and on their coming in ; and will specially recognise 
the families of both, as well as the other families repre 
sented by those present. The apostolic benediction 
will appropriately conclude the service, the whole of 
which need not occupy more than a few minutes. 

Baptisms, as conducted in the Presbyterian Church, 
afford an opportunity to the minister to stir his people 
up on one of the most important of practical duties, 
reaching out to an extent to which no limits can be 
assigned. The only parties whose responsibility is 
publicly recognised being the parents, the minister is 
called, both in private dealings and in public exhorta 
tions, to press their consciences with their obligation 
and privilege to bring up their children in the nurture 
and admonition of the Lord. In the baptismal address, 
something of uniformity is almost indispensable, the 
parents having a right to know beforehand the obliga 
tions that are to be laid upon them. This address 
ought to be avowedly founded on Scripture, and may 


be rendered more impressive by reference both to the 
beacons and examples which Scripture contains. In 
our churches it is usual to address the father alone, 
but it would be an improvement, as in some other 
churches, if the father and the mother were together ; 
and in any case, health permitting, the presence of the 
mother also is most desirable, as her heart is usually 
more susceptible on the subject of her infant s welfare, 
and her influence in training him is far more constant 
and usually more powerful. 

At funerals the official services of the minister are 
again required. The policy of the Scottish Eeformers 
to tear up, root and branch, those practices of Popery 
which had proved most mischievous in fostering super 
stition, and leading people away from the true ground 
of salvation, led them to discourage all religious ser 
vices at the burial of the dead. Gradually, however, 
we have been receding from this extreme position, and 
now it is customary to have reading of the Scriptures 
and prayer when the mourners are met, occasionally 
prayer at the grave, and not unfrequently, when the 
persons are of mark in the congregation, funeral ser 
mons, or allusions to the departed. Nor do we see any 
danger in these practices, so long as we keep up sound 
teaching in our pulpits on all the great matters of the 
faith. There is no difficulty in the selection of appro 
priate passages from Scripture. But there is some 
danger of letting the prayer become an eloge on the 
dead, and here the greatest caution must be used. In 
the case of persons well known for their consistent 
Christian character, the company are prepared to join 
in thanksgiving for grace bestowed by God upon them. 
In the case of others, they can only hesitate, and should 
the officiating minister be too pronounced, they will be 


perplexed, but they will not be able to join in such a 
prayer. Even at funerals the minister must pray as 
the mouth-piece of the company, and abstain from ex 
pressing views in which it is not reasonable to expect 
that they shall be able to join. 

The delivery of funeral sermons, or the making of 
allusions to deceased members from the pulpit, ought 
to be carefully restricted to the case of persons who by 
loftiness of Christian character or by eminent services 
to the church will be generally admitted to deserve the 
recognition. When such a practice becomes promis 
cuous, it loses its effect ; jealousy is apt to be roused 
when any are passed over, and men of very mixed 
character are liable to be canonized, about whom per 
haps the less that is said the better. 

When death occurs in a house, the minister is 
expected to be in close communication with the 
bereaved family, comforting them as he may be able, 
and urging them to take those solemn views of life, 
death, and eternity, which such an event is fitted to 
urge. But the true servant of God will never be satis 
fied with the performance of his mere official service 
on such occasions. Eegarding them as seasons when 
special access is afforded to the hearts of his people, 
and when the door is opened by Providence for near 
and earnest dealings with the soul, he will strive to 
press the truth home with peculiar fervour. The fact 
that the minister is so closely related to every occasion 
of joy and especially of sorrow in the history of his 
flock, while it is greatly fitted to endear him to them, 
gives him a hold, and a power of usefulness, which 
ought never to be overlooked. 

Nor ought he to confine his Christian offices to the 
more recognised and open occasions of this kind. The 


watchful eye and the watchful heart of the true 
minister will notice when a son or a daughter is about 
to leave home for school, or college, or business, or it 
may be to settle in a distant colony ; and regarding 
that occasion as not less really a crisis in the history of 
the family, than a birth or a death, will take the oppor 
tunity to offer his friendly counsel to the departing 
member, and carry them all to the mercy- seat to im 
plore the guidance and the blessing of the God of 
Bethel. In public prayer, too, without obtruding 
particular cases, he may cause the petitions he offers to 
embrace such various providential circumstances as are 
seldom far removed from the earnest feelings of some 
members of his flock. It is very certain that a living 
chord will thus be struck ; and while the minister is 
prized and loved for his sympathy, his prayers will be 
backed by fervent Amens issuing from the inmost 
sanctuary of their hearts. 

II. The next class of pastoral duties to which we 
shall advert is that of meetings for prayer, reading 
the Scriptures, and collateral objects. 

Ever since the evangelical revival of the last forty 
years, some such meetings have sprung up wherever 
there was any manifestation of religious earnestness. 
It must be owned, however, that in many cases they 
have not assumed a very definite shape, and that where 
the first fresh feeling out of which they sprung has 
subsided, the effort to keep them up has often been a 
laborious one. 

In Scotland, we can hardly be said as yet to have 
realized the true conception of a " prayer- meeting." 
The meeting so termed is generally little else than a 
diluted edition of a pulpit service. It does not appear 
to me that this meeting, as it is often conducted, has 


in it the elements of permanent vigour. It is a kind 
of cross between the cottage lecture, the prayer-meeting 
proper, and the pulpit service without what is most 
valuable in any. It is better, if possible, to keep these 
separate, and let each possess its characteristic features. 

The cottage lecture derives its special charm from its 
domestic character, being a meeting of a few neighbour 
ing families to hear the Word and join in praise and 
prayer. It is family worship on a larger scale. It has 
a kind of hallowing effect on the house and on the 
neighbourhood ; the simplicity, ease, and affectionate- 
ness of the service have a great charm, especially for 
the rural mind ; and it tends, perhaps, to gender more 
of a kindly, neighbourly, Christian spirit than even the 
Lord s Day service, where many of the people are 
unacquainted, and a distant feeling towards one another 
must to some degree prevail. 

Of the prayer-meeting proper I have seen much 
more characteristic samples in the United States than 
in this country. Though the Fulton Street daily 
prayer- meeting in New York can hardly be considered 
a general model, yet in many respects it is fitted to 
give to all of us very valuable lessons. It is really, as 
its name denotes, a meeting for prayer. Men go there 
simply to pray, and in this very respect it has had a 
wonderful effect in educating Christian people to be 
lieve in prayer. Many prayers are offered in the 
course of the hour (interspersed with hymns, reading a 
few verses, or narrating cases), and in every instance 
the prayers are short, pointed, and fervent. They are 
like arrows from the bow of the strong jets of petition 
darting heavenwards, instead of prolonged formal 
prayers, with little point and little soul. In the more 
prosperous congregations in the United States, the con- 


gregational prayer-meetings are of somewhat similar 
character. They are conducted by the office-bearers 
and members, not by the minister. Dr. Cuyler of 
Brooklyn, New York, has said in our hearing that he 
hardly ever took part, except as a listener, in the 
prayer-meeting of his congregation. Congregational 
meetings of this kind are the only prayer-meetings 
that answer to the idea, and have in them the elements 
of stability. Not only are they full of the atmosphere 
of prayer, but they promote and deepen the spirit out 
of which they spring. Every meeting of this kind lays 
the foundation, as it were, of the next. 

A week-day congregational lecture entails a very 
great additional labour on a minister, and where all 
the other pastoral duties are laboriously performed, is 
too exhausting to be looked for. Men with great 
facility of preaching may be able to overtake it, and to 
produce a discourse equal to those of the Lord s Day ; 
but the temptation to slipshod preparation and crude 
performance is too great in ordinary cases. There 
seems to be no reason, however, why in towns a 
number of ministers should not combine, and taking a 
weekly lecture in turn, bestow their best strength upon 
it. The reason why such services have often died out 
is that those who have taken part in them have not 
given their best strength to them, and instead of pro 
ducing what was better, have been content with a 
weaker service than usual. 

It may happen that for a time the minister finds it 
impossible to get members of the congregation of lively 
and earnest spirit to aid him in conducting a real 
prayer-meeting. The training of the younger men is a 
work of time, and meanwhile, in any meeting for 
prayer, the duty falls chiefly on himself. When it 


must be so, lie ought still to study, as far as possible, 
to make the meeting answer to its name. His prayers 
ought not to be mere general devotions, but pleadings 
for the various classes of his flock, and for the various 
objects in which the congregation has an interest. His 
address ought to be directed, more than on ordinary 
occasions, to promote the spirit of devotion. The 
people ought to be able to feel as they leave, that 
business has been done at the throne of grace, and that 
it is to be expected that in answer to such pleadings 
blessings will descend from above. It will be found, 
too, that when prayer assumes such a form at the 
prayer- meetings, it will by-and-by acquire more of it 
in the church. Every thoughtful minister will readily 
understand how important all this is. The Christian 
people of Scotland have got the character of being 
intensely fond of preaching, but not of praying. And 
undoubtedly there is unhappily a measure of truth in 
the charge. 

A prayer-meeting for missionary objects is highly 
desirable and important, probably once a month. To 
give it variety and special interest, tidings from the 
mission- field should be given in some shape. But 
nothing can be more dry or cheerless than the mere 
reading of long letters from a Missionary Record. 
Pains must be taken to excite an interest in what is 
read. Explanations must be given, if necessary, about 
the place, the missionary, and the people. The narra 
tive mnst be skilfully linked on to something that is 
stirring in the people s minds. In some cases there 
are narratives so absorbing that they require no com 
ment; such, however, are exceptional. When the 
circumstances are favourable, an excellent effect might 
be produced by the holding of such meetings on the 


evening of the Lord s Day ; and generally, in the 
ordinary services of the sanctuary, a much higher 
place ought to be given to the great missionary 
enterprise than is almost ever done. The hearts of 
the people ought to be directed habitually, and not 
by mere spasmodic efforts, to the missionary business 
of the Christian Church, expanded by the survey of 
the vast field of heathenism, and roused to pity, to 
effort, and to prayer, as St. Paul s was at Athens by 
the sight of the city given wholly to idolatry. 

III. Is it ever desirable and proper to get up special 
meetings with a view to deepen and concentrate religi 
ous feeling, and to bring about what is called a revival 
of religion ? For such meetings some persons have a 
great horror, while to others they are the objects of the 
utmost delight. Not a few worthy persons, of the more 
orderly and correct stamp, regard them as mere emana 
tions of fanaticism, and think that if encouragement is 
to be given to the illiterate and impetuous men that 
often come to the front on such occasions, divine ser 
vice will degenerate into mere sensuous excitement, 
and conscience and reason will be driven off the field 
by the surging force of spiritual passion. This, of 
course, is an extreme and therefore unsatisfactory 
view ; the subject demands to be examined with more 
care and candour. 

It is to be remarked, then, that even where the Word 
of God is fully and faithfully preached, there is a ten 
dency in congregations to remain at rest. A preacher 
who has preached from week to week for many years 
to the same people, and who has the prospect of doing 
the same to the end of his life, can hardly fail to fall 
into a less urgent tone than one who is among them for 
but one brief day or one brief week. The people, too, 



meeting quietly from week to week, without much out 
ward difference between one week and another, do not 
ordinarily feel any necessity for immediate action in 
matters of religion. Accordingly, want of decision 
characterizes many persons who are not destitute of 
religious impressions, and who are not far from the 
kingdom of God. Something is needed to break in on 
the ordinary monotony and rouse an intenser feeling. 
In former days in Scotland, communion occasions were 
often turned to account in this way ; they were great 
preaching festivals, and such communion services as 
those of the Erskines were often times of awakening 
and refreshing. In the Highlands, too, the same state 
of things prevailed. But in most parts of the country 
the extra services on sacramental occasions have lost 
their former power, and the manifest tendency is to 
fewer extra services and to more frequent and simple 
arrangements for the communion. Those who desire to 
see the prevalent languor of our congregations broken 
in upon by special efforts to produce a livelier state 
of feeling resort to a succession of meetings, night after 
night, for prayer and evangelistic addresses. But the 
minister ought not to leave such meetings to be organized 
by others. He ought himself to be at the head of them, 
backed by the elders, and the more godly and earnest 
members of the flock. Good is more likely to come 
out of any such movement when the spiritual noblesse 
of the congregation are in the attitude of prayerful 
desire and expectation, when their feelings are deeply 
exercised on behalf of their unconverted brethren, and 
they are prepared to back the movement with much 
earnest intercession. To guide a religious movement 
of this kind wisely is one of the highest achievements 
of sanctified wisdom arid zeal. 


The idea of bringing about a revival through any 
other means than prayer for the outpouring of the 
Spirit of God has to some minds the aspect of inter 
ference with the sovereign prerogatives of God. But 
in reality there is no more reason for expecting a 
revival without the use of suitable means, than for 
expecting any other spiritual result. There are means 
adapted to this as to other spiritual objects. This 
consideration deepens very greatly the responsibility of 
ministers, and calls for a profounder dependence on that 
wisdom which alone is profitable to direct. 

Meetings designed for the purpose of promoting a 
revival of spiritual life require to be organized with 
more skill and care than are often brought to bear on 
them. In the first place, the very word " revival " 
indicates that the first object is to resuscitate spiritual 
earnestness in those who have already been born of 
God. It is to rouse them to more vivid impressions of 
divine truth, more solemn views of sin and guilt, more 
soul -stirring thoughts of the love of God and the grace 
of Christ, more grief and more love for a world lying in 
wickedness, and more intense prayer for the outpouring 
of the Holy Spirit. And any minister of the Gospel 
may be well assured that unless his own heart be stirred 
in this way, he cannot expect that he will be made the 
instrument of stirring up the hearts of others. If, how 
ever, by God s grace, there should come to the more 
godly part of his flock a spirit of special sensibility, 
prayerfulness and expectation, he is entitled to regard 
the time as suitable for an effort on behalf of those who 
are outside the kingdom, or hovering about the door. 

It is recommended by some who have made a study 
of such movements, that a gradation of subjects be 
followed in meetings designed to awaken the careless, 


and bring them safe within the kingdom of Christ. 
For the purpose of awakening, such topics as "the worth 
of the soul, the immediate and urgent claims of religion, 
the danger of delay, the deathbed of the sinner, the 
scenes of the last judgment, the final separation, the 
glories of heaven, and the retributions of eternity," 1 
are thought to be the most suitable. Next, it ought 
to be the aim to produce true convictions of sin. The 
false standards which men are wont to regard must be 
set aside, and the rule brought forward, however strict 
and condemning, by which God will judge us at the 
last day. The spirituality and searching character of 
the law should be opened up, and at the same time its 
excellence, fitness, and reasonableness. The aggrava 
tion of sin in neglecting the Son of God, notwithstand 
ing his coming from heaven to Calvary for men s salva 
tion, must be specially urged. Mere agitation or even 
distress of mind is not always a token of genuine con 
viction ; nor can the conviction be sufficient either in 
quality or amount, until it prostrates men in the dust 
as lost sinners before God, who have no plea of their 
own to urge on their behalf and must therefore lie 
wholly at his mercy. 

But awakened men are not necessarily converted 
men, and there is no small skill needed in guiding the 
awakened to conversion. " The considerations chiefly to 
be pressed now are such as these : the obligation, 
the duty, of loving God and submitting to him ; the 
duty of repenting and turning from sin ; the duty of an 
immediate trusting in Christ ; the perfect reasonable 
ness of these requirements ; the inherent propriety and 
excellency of them ; the binding authority of God in 

1 Pond s Pastoral Theology, p. 162 (Boston, 1867). Dr. Pond has 
given special attention to this branch of pastoral work. 


the case ; our obligations of gratitude to him ; the suf 
ferings and love of Christ for us, his infinite sufficiency 
and our helplessness; his full atonement and our guilt." 1 

At this stage, it is of great importance to urge the 
freeness of the gospel offer ; the completeness of the 
work of Christ ; the call of God to the sinner to believe 
and live ; not to work or wait indefinitely for some 
expected improvement on himself, but to corne as he is 
accepting of Christ as all his salvation and all his 

" Among the dangers incident to the management of 
a revival movement, one is extreme caution, or fear of 
overdoing ; the other is that of pushing the movement 
too fast, thereby injuring its character and bringing it 
to a speedy close. . . . The pastor rejoices in the 
work of begun revival ; he feels his own responsibility in 
regard to it ; his soul is excited and quickened under its 
influence ; and he rushes into it under the impression 
that he cannot labour too fast, or do too much in a 
given time for the promotion of so good a cause. The 
consequence is, that he goes beyond his strength, is 
soon prostrated and unable to do anything. Or in his 
heated, excited state of mind, he is chargeable with 
indiscretions, which impair his influence, and hinder 
the progress of the work. He changes, it may be, the 
whole character of the revival, and turns it into a scene 
of excitement and extravagance." 2 

An acquaintance with the best narratives of awaken 
ings, conversation with those who have had much to 
do with them, and experience of the work itself, are 
far better fitted to guide one in the management of 
them than any general instructions. The Narrative of 
Surprising Conversions in New England by President 
1 Pond, p. 172. 2 Ibid. 


Edwards is one of the most interesting, impressive, and 
instructive memoirs ever published. It is eminently 
worthy of the study of every minister, for it combines 
the view of the philosopher and the saint, calm wisdom 
and deep spirituality, a burning desire for the welfare 
of souls, and a dread of the tares which the enemy is 
so ready to sow among the wheat. No single work is 
so well fitted to give one an intelligent view of the 
whole subject of a revival, its rise and progress, its 
crisis, and its decay ; its risks and benefits, its good 
and evil. The life of Asahel Nettleton, the greatest of 
American revivalists, is also full of information and 
useful hints on the various aspects of the question. 
Some of the writings of the late Isaac Taylor may be 
noted likewise as bearing on this subject, which, like 
most of his works, are full of Christian wisdom and 
the results of careful and candid thought. The Natural 
History of Enthusiasm is in the main an apology for 
evangelical earnestness, with a careful exposition of the 
evils that come of it when allowed to run to seed. His 
Fanaticism indicates an advanced stage of religious 
degeneracy, when zeal for the Christian cause has 
become mixed with malignant feeling, and resorts to 
all manner of un-Christian devices to defeat its foes. 

We have assumed throughout, that any religious 
movement of the nature of a revival must be presided 
over by the minister himself. If he deems it his duty 
occasionally to ask aid from men who devote them 
selves to revival work, it ought to be on the distinct 
understanding that they are to assist and not to super 
sede him when they come. Even where the pastor has 
been most deeply interested in the movement, it will 
sometimes be difficult to guide. Congregations have 
sometimes been brought to the verge of extinction 


through the injudicious management of revivals. In 
other cases they have heen singularly built up by the 
adoption of a wiser course. We have known instances 
of both. In one instance of the latter sort, where the 
congregation was doubled in numbers, and more than 
doubled in fervour and fruitfulness, the minister has 
told us that he kept his eye open to two opposite 
dangers that of discouraging the development of life 
on the one hand, and that of fostering the extravagances 
often adhering, but not necessarily cohering, to it, on 
the other. He found great benefit in a recipe which he 
called the three S s, Substitute, Suggest, Supplement. 
If any one wished a hymn of a somewhat ranting kind 
to be Bung, he would invite the people to unite in sing 
ing, quietly substituting a more unexceptionable hymn ; 
if they proposed an additional meeting at a late hour 
of the night, he would suggest that a meeting should be 
held next evening ; if any one gave a one-sided address, 
he would supplement it himself by presenting the other 
side of the question. Thus, avoiding collision with the 
rushing stream, he contrived to guide it in a useful 
direction, and when the waters subsided a valuable de 
posit was left, and richer clusters have hung ever since 
on the branches of his vines. 



IF the question be asked, To whom does it belong to 
take an active part in the maintenance of Christian 
ordinances, and the advancement of the kingdom of 
Christ ? the answers to the question will embrace two 
extremes. One extreme is, that all such work belongs 
to the ordained minister; that he only has authority 
from his Master in the kingdom of Christ; and that 
any one else who meddles with sacred things intrudes 
without warrant into the sacred enclosure. The other 
extreme is, that all who have themselves been taught 
of God are equally entitled, nay, bound and obliged, to 
minister in His kingdom ; and that for any one in that 
kingdom to assume and exercise authority over others, 
in virtue of his having been ordained by men, is to 
subvert the Master s order, and to hinder the full edifi 
cation of the community. The one system, while it no 
doubt secures order and regularity, tends to restrict the 
service of Christ to certain formal acts, and excludes 
Christians, not ordained, from all service in the House 
of God, except what is menial and mechanical ; the 
other, while affording ample scope for the exercise of 
gifts, makes no provision for order and authority, and 
tends to ecclesiastical anarchy. The best system must 


be one which combines both objects ; secures order and 
authority through office-bearers placed over the congre 
gation, and yet affords free scope for the exercise of all 
their gifts and graces by those who are moved to help 
the cause of Christ. 

The Presbyterian system, when duly ordered and 
developed, tends to secure this double object. It is 
based on the principle of " many members in one body, 
and all members not having the same office." It does 
not hold that the gifts bestowed by the Head of the 
Church for the spiritual welfare of the body are all con 
centrated in one individual ; but, on the contrary, that 
they are distributed more or less throughout the 
members, and that scope for their orderly exercise ought 
to be freely afforded. It maintains, indeed, that over 
every congregation there ought to be one man who has 
been specially trained for the work of the ministry, and 
separated from secular pursuits in order that he may 
give his whole time and strength to the duties of his 
office. The right and warrant for this is partly that 
there were such men in the Church of the New Testa 
ment, and partly that experience is ever teaching that 
they are indispensable for the permanent order and 
edification of the Church. But however competent by 
natural gifts and spiritual grace any man may be to 
occupy the chief seat in a Christian synagogue, it is out 
of the question to suppose that he possesses all the 
gifts, and that no other member possesses any. In the 
flock of that very minister there may be some men who 
excel as judges of character, able to detect false pre 
tence, and to form a just estimate of true worth ; some 
may have an unusual gift in prayer ; some, of ^ery 
sympathetic heart, may be specially fitted for minister 
ing to the sick and afflicted ; others have the faculty of 


winning the confidence of strangers, or of persons not 
connected with the flock ; others have a happy knack 
of instructing the young ; some have a great turn for 
evangelistic efforts ; others are interested in the im 
provement of the psalmody ; and some, endowed with 
rare persevering energy, will go on with the most try 
ing work after others have abandoned it in despair. 
According to the constitution of the Presbyterian 
Church, certain qualified men ought to be selected, and, 
if approved, ordained to office in the congregation ; while 
others, though not ordained, ought to be recognised, 
directed, and superintended in their efforts to do good. 

Two classes, we hold, ought to be solemnly ordained 
to office. These are, elders and deacons. The example 
of the New Testament plainly requires this. In regard 
to elders, the New Testament shows that in every con 
gregation there was a ~body of elders, to whom the 
spiritual oversight of the congregation was committed. 
Elders are always spoken of in the plural number. 
The minister, indeed, is but an elder (1 Pet. v. 1), 
specially trained, however, and specially set apart for 
the service of the Church, and therefore entitled to pre 
side, especially at the dispensation of word and sacra 
ments ; but differing from the other elders not in the 
nature of his office, but in the extent of his qualifica 
tions. The spiritual authority of the Church is shared 
with the minister and the elders. While, therefore, the 
lay- elders of a congregation (that is, those not separated 
from secular callings) are to concede to the minister 
those duties for which his training and standing specially 
qualify him, they are to do what they can through their 
own< gifts for the spiritual welfare of the congregation 
over which they bear rule equally with him. In like 
manner, though in another sphere, the deacons are 


ordained, as in the time of the apostles (Acts vi. 6), 
for the administration of the temporal affairs of the 
church. At the same time it is to be remarked that 
even in the Presbyterian Church, where the office of the 
deacon is regarded as instituted for the management of 
secular interests, it has not been held imperative to 
ordain deacons under all circumstances, and that on this 
point the practice varies. What we are concerned to 
remark is, that every duly-equipped congregation pos 
sesses a body of ordained office-bearers, through whom, 
with the fullest regard to order and authority, provision 
is made for the exercise of the gifts and graces of the 
4lite of the members. 

But it is evident from the New Testament that elders 
and deacons, though the only persons who are said to 
have been formally ordained, were not the only persons 
who were allowed to labour in the church. The six 
teenth chapter of Eomans contains the apostle s greet 
ing to many men and women who were labouring in 
the church at Eome. There is no reason to suppose 
that all these were expressly ordained to an office. At 
the top of the list is Phcebe a servant or deaconess of 
the church at Cenchrea, but of whom we have no reason 
to believe that she was ordained. Priscilla and Aquila, 
a married couple, come next, the wife s name preceding 
the husband s. It is extremely improbable that the 
long list of active men and women that follows were 
persons who had all been ordained to office. But all of 
them were actively using their abilities for the advance 
ment of the kingdom, and in so doing they were not 
only recognised, but commended by the apostle. It 
follows that in every well-equipped congregation, in 
addition to those expressly ordained to office, but under 
their sanction and superintendence, there ought to be a 


body of active workers, engaged in the various opera 
tions of Christian love and zeal which the circumstances 
call for. In many such congregations we find a body 
of Sunday-school teachers, or of helpers in a children s 
church ; a body of district visitors ; a young men s 
association, a missionary association, a psalmody asso 
ciation, a school committee, and a mothers meeting. 
It is right that all these should be recognised, and it is 
indispensable that they be superintended by the office 
bearers. Their work ought to be the subject of public 
prayer, and it ought to be made plain that they are 
not mere free lances, but that they labour under the 
warm wing and paternal guidance of the Church. Here 
then is another great field for the use and exercise of 
the gifts and graces of all the members ; a field inviting 
every man and woman in a congregation who is capable 
of any service, and leaving all without excuse who 
stand in the market-place idle. 

It is not very easy to draw a line in theory between 
the services which are peculiar to the minister and 
those which may lawfully be performed by other 
members of a congregation. And as the line cannot 
easily be drawn in theory, it is not desirable to make it 
hard and fast in practice. It is evident that the 
apostles did not confine the deacons to serving tables, 
but allowed them, when qualified, to preach the word. 
Nor does it seem at all wise to try to shut the mouths 
of zealous men who on the streets, or at mission-meet 
ings, try to address their fellow- sinners on the things of 
salvation. So long as no real interference with the 
stated functions of the ministry takes* place, and so 
long as the proceedings are practically though indirectly 
under the influence of the Church, it seems undesirable 
to interfere with the efforts of zealous men. Christian 


zeal, at a white or even a red heat, is so rare a quality, 
that even if it should be somewhat eccentric, it is well, 
if possible, to give it line. The real danger is connected 
with a class of men who are not under the superintend 
ence of any Church, who do not believe in the divine 
appointment of a regular ministry, and who are more 
given to deny its authority and undermine its influence 
than to accept its superintendence. But if more scope 
were afforded within for the labours of ardent and 
zealous men, there would be less opportunity for their 
subverting Church- order by operations without. 

But there are other grounds on which this plan of 
co-operation in Christian work by all who have any 
fitness for it, is to be encouraged in congregations. It 
is worthy of being earnestly fostered on the ground of 
its extraordinary benefit to the workers themselves. 
It is, indeed, a very important and valuable means of 
grace. To be doing good to others is one of the best 
means of getting good to one s-self. " He that watereth 
shall be watered also himself" (Prov. xi. 29). There 
is an analogy here between the natural and the spiritual 
life. It is not merely by a process of direct nursing 
that the natural life becomes vigorous and robust. The 
man that confines himself to the house, that feeds on 
the tenderest dainties, that strives by every art to keep 
himself from draughts and damp, and on days entirely 
favourable takes a cautious airing at mid-day, is never 
strong. Bone and muscle are not developed by such 
treatment. If he would become strong, the coddling 
system must be abandoned, and his energies thrown 
into some pursuit external to himself, in following which 
his fibre may become firm, and his organs healthy and 
vigorous. The analogy is but an imperfect one, but it 
may serve to set Christian men and women on their 


guard against the idea that a process of direct nursing, 
without the addition of some Christian occupation 
external to themselves, is the true way to preserve and 
develop their spiritual life. The most vigorous Chris 
tian men have found some such work not only beneficial 
but necessary. Dr. Chalmers had always a list of a few 
poor people among whom he visited, and Dr. Arnold of 
Kugby used to say that the two best safeguards against 
spiritual declension were prayer and visiting among 
the poor. Is there not something similar at the bottom 
of St. James s celebrated definition " Pure religion and 
undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the 
fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to 
keep himself unspotted from the world" (James i. 27). 
Constituted as men are, they seem to require some 
thing over and above the direct instigation of duty, or 
the direct action of the highest spiritual motives, to 
carry them along the way of holiness, and stimulate them 
to the exercise of the highest graces. In ordinary life 
it helps a man to be moral and self-controlled, that he 
has others to care for who are physically weaker than 
himself; and in this arrangement we see a wise provi 
sion of the God of Providence. In the spiritual life it 
helps a Christian to be self-denied, that he has others 
to watch over who are spiritually weaker than himself ; 
and in this arrangement we see a wise provision of the 
God of grace. Let us illustrate our position first, by 
reference to one of the more mechanical of the Christian 
graces (although it is also, in its true exercise, much more 
than mechanical), the giving of money to Christian 
objects. It is seldom that a mere sense of duty leads a 
rich Christian to be very liberal. But give him an 
interest in some definite Christian enterprise attach 
him to some special mission or charity, where he sees 


or knows what is doing, and what needs to be done, his 
heart will be enlarged, and his hand will open with 
his heart, till he becomes a proverb for generosity. 
Let us advance from this grace to that of prayer. Can 
any one fancy that the apostle Paul would have prayed 
as he did, if he had prayed only for himself ? The fact 
of his having so many more to pray for drew out his 
desires, and kept him for ever repairing to the throne 
of grace a duty which in other circumstances he 
might have sometimes neglected. 

The same thing holds true of other graces, and of the 
Christian life generally. The bare sense of duty, or the 
direct view of the unseen, has not a sufficient impulsive 
force on the souls of most men. It is a great advantage 
to be associated with religious work. It is useful to 
have their interests and sympathies drawn to some 
definite enterprise. It is impossible to calculate the 
benefit in this respect which the overwhelming neces 
sities of the Disruption conferred on the first members 
of the Free Church. It is equally impossible to calcu 
late the benefit which connexion with the various 
congregational agencies already referred to has on the 
spiritual life of congregations everywhere. At the same 
time, let it be observed that there is a risk in this 
direction as well as a benefit. The risk is, the substitu 
tion of a kind of ecclesiastical activity for personal and 
earnest godliness. There is a risk of a certain fussiness 
about church -business being regarded as a certificate 
of saintship. This is very odious ; and to speak honestly, 
it is a risk which we have not altogether avoided. But 
it is a miserable thing to lead the men of the world to 
suppose, when we invite them to join us, that we 
just invite them to take a prominent place in certain 
church-organizations, instead of inviting them to unite 


with us in trying to love and follow Jesus, in every 
holy grace and beautiful habit of his spotless life. 
Connexion with the Church, whether in the fellowship 
of worship or in the fellowship of work, is but a means 
to an end; and that end is, "the perfecting of the 
saints, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of 
the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, 
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of 
Christ" (Eph. iv. 13). 

These views as to Christian usefulness are not of 
secondary but of primary importance ; and in order 
that they may be duly impressed on the people, they 
ought to have no insignificant place among the subjects 
of the pulpit. They constitute a topic that should be 
frequently handled ; indeed, it is not too much to say, 
that it ought to be one of the marked topics of the 
pulpit, one of the subjects on which the preacher may 
say, "To write" (or to speak) "the same things unto you, 
to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe " 
(Phil. iii. 1). It should be the aim of the preacher to 
indoctrinate his people with this view of Christian duty 
and privilege, and to get them to regard it as one of 
the arrangements most necessary for the welfare of the 
Church, and for making her the blessing which she 
might be, and ought to be, to the world. Without 
going out of his way, the earnest minister will find 
many such opportunities. The parable of the talents ; 
the parable of the labourers standing idle in the market 
place; the mission of the seventy disciples by our 
Lord, apart from the twelve apostles ; the commenda 
tions bestowed in the Epistles on the many men and 
women who served the Church ; the counsels given us 
to exhort one another, to edify one another, to bear one 
another s burdens, to look not every man on his own 


things, but every man also on the things of others ; the 
example of Christ who came not to be ministered unto 
but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many ; 
the genius of the Christian religion, where he who is the 
servant of all is the greatest of all ; the analogy of an 
army where not the commanding officer alone, but each 
soldier, is expected to fight ; the necessities of the 
world ; the necessities of the Church ; the danger to 
Christians themselves of a state of stagnation, and 
the numberless blessings of a state of activity; 
with related topics so pointed and so numerous as 
these, the minister will find no want of opportunity 
to press this theme. It is quite true that with a class 
of his people he will find it anything but popular. 
Eeuben will prefer to abide in the sheep-cotes, 
Gilead beyond Jordan, Asher on the sea-shore, and 
Dan in ships (Judges v. 16, 17). The selfish and the 
worldly will resent the summons to bestir themselves 
and come to the help of the Lord. But let not the 
minister be disheartened by a growl or a grumble. 
Deeper down, in the conscience of the objector, is a 
voice of approval, and there are times when even such 
persons feel a sort of pride in the zeal of their minister 
and the activity of his people. Only pride is not the 
feeling to be encouraged or tolerated. Let the spirit 
of self-satisfaction and pride get a footing in a vigorous 
congregation, alas for all that is lovely and of good 
report ! The best wine, according to the proverb, turns 
to the sourest vinegar ; and the best graces, whether in 
an individual or in a congregation, when thus perverted, 
become the most odious vices. 

But it is time to address ourselves to the more 
practical aspect of the subject. How is the minister to 
go about this work of organization, how are tho 



several agents to be selected and trained for this work, 
and how is the whole system to be maintained in 
vigour and efficiency ? But I must honestly confess 
that I shrink considerably from approaching this view of 
the subject, because, in truth, it is too much to expect 
that the minister shall carefully and zealously perform 
the laborious duties of his pulpit and his pastorate, and 
at the same time be the originator and the mainspring 
of a great system of evangelistic operations. Congre 
gations must speedily contemplate arrangements that 
will give their minister some relief in pulpit and 
pastoral labour, if it is expected of him to superintend 
the varied machinery now so frequently at work in 
connexion with congregational and territorial purposes. 
In the Church of England no minister in a charge of 
any magnitude bears the whole burden both of congre 
gational and parochial work. 

But suppose this difficulty to be got over ; suppose 
the minister full of the desire to have an active congre 
gation, and anxious to begin the varied operations, how 
is he to set about the work ? In the first place, let him 
pray about it, and about every part of it, and about 
every agent that may be asked to take part in it, and 
about everything that may be undertaken by each. 
Let him seek to have the feeling deeply impressed on 
himself and all his coadjutors that this is not a warfare 
which he has begun on his own charges, that it is 
the Master s work, on which they may expect the 
Master s countenance if only it be directed to the ad 
vancement of His glory. Further, let him be careful 
to consult the recognised, ordained office-bearers of the 
congregation. It may be that the elders will have 
little to say about it ; they may have no help and no 
counsel to offer, and asking their advice and counte- 


nance may be a mere form, without practical result. 
But on the other hand, there may be both counsel and 
help, and in any case there is such a tendency in men 
to complain if they are not sufficiently recognised in 
any undertaking that it is always well to cut off all 
occasion for such complaint. 

Suppose, then, that the elders devolve the active pro 
secution of the work on the minister, the first thing he 
may have to settle is the operations to be undertaken. 
This of course will depend on the nature of the case, 
the character of the population, and the composition of 
the flock. In general it is desirable to proceed 
cautiously, letting one branch of operations be pretty 
well established and consolidated before other branches 
are begun. Whether the work be a work of teaching, 
or of visiting, or of taking a part in meetings, the 
minister must not expect to find a sufficient staff of 
agents duly qualified at once. It will be well for him 
if he can find one or more capable of entering into the 
work intelligently, of giving it a tone, and of setting an 
example to the rest. But with regard to many he 
must lay his account with the need for a tolerably 
long process of education. Moreover, the minister 
must not expect that his people are to enter heartily 
at once into all that interests him, or are to rush to 
offer their services the moment he announces that he 
has need for them. He must take special means for 
awakening the interest of his people in them. 

And here it may be useful for us to consider what it is 
that gives to some ministers the remarkable power they 
possess of securing the services of others. We say of 
some men that they have a remarkable power of organi 
zation. They succeed wonderfully in getting others to 
work with them. What is the secret of this success ? 


Not mere zeal ; not mere activity (though these are in 
cluded), but a combination of qualities deserving of 
careful study. Of these the following may be noted, 

1. A clear aim, and a firm will; the minister having a 
definite object which he can easily state and get others 
to understand, and holding firmly to it till it be attained. 

2. Great readiness for personal labour, for a leader must 
not spare himself, but be forward in personal service. 

3. Judgment and tact in finding out what other people 
are most fit for, and attaching them accordingly. 

4. Elasticity and fertility of resource, capacity of adapt 
ing himself to circumstances. 5. Friendly interest in 
those whom he associates with him, a capacity to make 
common work a stepping-stone to mutual friendship, 
confidence, and affection. In a word, personal attrac 
tiveness and power to interest. 

Further, the minister is not to deem it enough 
merely to announce from the pulpit the project he has 
on hand, and his reasons for taking it up. He must 
first of all try to talk freely on the subject in his 
ordinary and pastoral intercourse with his people, taking 
them as it were into his confidence, making them the 
partners of his aims and of his plans, and asking them 
to become his fellow -workers in carrying them into 
effect. And when the work is going on he must try 
to make it the occasion of developing a social feeling 
among the workers, of associating with it a sense 
of social enjoyment, and likewise a sense of spiritual 
benefit to themselves. It is not easy to exaggerate the 
benefit of such frankness in dealing with one s as 
sociates. Yet it must not be thought that it is 
impossible to go too far in the direction of communi 
cativeness. There is also a certain reserve which it is 


well for the minister to maintain. It is not easy to 
draw the line, but the example of our Lord indicates 
it. " Henceforth I call you not servants, for the ser 
vant knoweth not what his lord doeth ; but I have 
called you friends, for all things that I have heard of 
my Father I have made known unto you (John xv. 15). 
In this consisted our Lord s frankness. " What I do 
thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter" 
(John xiii. 7). " I have yet many things to say unto 
you, but ye cannot bear them now" (John xvi. 12). 
" It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, 
which the Father hath put in his own power" 
(Acts i. 7). There was our Lord s reserve. And it will 
be a happy thing for the minister if he too can strike 
this wonderful medium. 

With every class of agents in congregational or pa 
rochial work, it is most important to have regular meet 
ings for prayer, conference, and quickening of interest. 
It is not desirable that these should be very frequent, 
but it is quite essential that they should be extremely 
regular. At such meetings the minister may tell of 
what has been done, or of what is doing elsewhere in 
similar enterprises. Many is the wonderful narrative 
whose quickening effect time and space alike fail to 
impair. Works like Praying and Working, by Mr. 
Fleming Stevenson ; Six Months among the Charities of 
Europe, by Mr. de Liefde ; The Book and its Mission, 
by Mrs. lianyard ; English Hearts and English Hands, 
by Miss Marsh ; Haste to the Rescue, by Mrs. Wight- 
man ; and Ragged Homes and How to Mend them, by 
Mrs. Bayly, are adapted for being most useful both to the 
minister and his people. Have we not also Mr. Tasker s 
Territorial Visitor s Manual, Dr. Banna s West Port 


chapter in the Life of Dr. Chalmers, Mr. Cochrane s 
Mission Work, and Mr. M ColTs Work in the Wyndst 
And have we not in many successful missions practical 
exemplifications of the work that are most instructive 
and valuable ? It is, moreover, desirable to have occa 
sional, or perhaps periodical meetings of the various 
classes of workers in a congregation for social intercourse, 
and for addresses connected with the work. This tends 
to knit them together in brotherly bonds, to develop a 
spirit of interest and mutual affection, as well as to 
gather recruits from among the more willing and in 
terested members of the congregation, who may be 
specially asked to be present on such occasions. 

The remarks now made are applicable chiefly to con 
gregations in large towns, and in the more populous 
districts elsewhere. To small flocks in the country dis 
tricts they are applicable only in a very limited degree. 
It is one of the difficulties connected with small flocks 
how is work to be found for exercising and develop 
ing the gifts and graces of the members ? Some such 
work, however, there obviously is, and probably by con 
ferring with friends and brethren interested in the sub 
ject the young minister will soon be able to settle what 
line it will be best for him to follow. It has sometimes 
been said sarcastically, that Christianity has been a 
failure. The sunken masses are pointed to in proof. 
If the Christian leaven were the right kind of leaven, 
it is said that it would leaven the whole lump. But 
the fault lies not with Christianity, but with Christians. 
There is need of a more active, diffusive, affectionate 
Christian spirit, not on the part of ministers only, but 
on the part of the whole body of the Christian people. 
At the present day the Holy Spirit seems to be pressing 


tliis truth home, and calling on Christian men and 
women to act on it. It remains to be seen whether 
the Christian people are willing to be led forth to the 
enterprise ; or whether, preferring carnal ease and in 
dulgence, they will fall under the curse of Meroz, 
" who came not to the help of the Lord, to the help 
of the Lord against the mighty " (Judges v. 23). 



. HITHERTO we have considered the minister almost 
exclusively in his relation to his own flock first, as a 
preacher, and then as a pastor. But there is hardly 
any sphere, however remote or humble, in which the 
minister does not sustain some relation to a wider com 
munity. No small share of his influence, both with his 
flock and with the outer world, depends on the manner 
in which he acquits himself in this wider relation ; and 
now that we have glanced at the leading topics that 
concern the inner pastoral circle, it may be well to 
advert to some of those that lie in the wider or more 
catholic sphere. We are now to consider the minister 
as a public man a leading member of the general com 
munity bound to take an interest in public institutions, 
and to endeavour to give a Christian tone and direction 
both to local and national procedure. 

Two extremes present themselves here, between 
which, as in most similar cases, the true path will be 

The one extreme is, when the minister is merely the 
pastor of his own flock, and takes no concern in any 
thing beyond ; the other, when he gets so overwhelmed 
with public engagements that he is unable to discharge 


efficiently the duties of his own charge. In the one 
case he has too little public spirit; in the other too 
much. It is true, indeed, that the character of a man s 
gifts goes far to determine whether or not he ought to 
take much share in public business. Some men may 
be so cut out for the quiet pastoral walk, and so awk 
ward and miserable on the platform, or in the com 
mittee-room, that no reasonable doubt can exist as to 
which is their proper sphere ; while some, on the other 
hand, may have such shining gifts for public life as to 
make it a duty to take a large share of its burden, espe 
cially in difficult times, even though certain parts of 
pastoral work should suffer. But in truth every mini 
ster ought to concern himself in some way with the 
general cause of Christianity. It was not the high- 
priest only that had cause to tremble for the ark of 
God, when it was carried into battle with the Philis 
tines, but every Levite, nay, every Israelite, throughout 
the country. For a minister to shut himself up within 
the limits of his congregation, and leave all the more 
general interests of Christianity to their fate, is to 
forget that he is not merely the minister of that con 
gregation, but that he is also the servant of Him 
who declares that the field is the world. In ordinary 
service nothing is worse than for a servant having 
a special charge in one department, to take no in 
terest in anything that concerns his master beyond 
it, and to neglect numberless opportunities of serving 
him, because they lie in spheres that have not been 
specially committed to him. There are important 
matters connected with the cause of Christ that from 
their nature cannot be specially committed to indi 
viduals ; it therefore becomes every minister to consider 
whether he be not called to give his help in some of 


them. No doubt, however, can be entertained, that 
when one is first planted in his charge, his first and 
main duty is to work actively there. It would be un 
reasonable to deny him the opportunity of forming his 
plans, and consolidating his arrangements there, before 
he should be called actively to other work. The most 
essential reputation for any minister to earn, is that of 
a faithful and laborious workman at home. The public 
will not be much disposed in his favour, if he come to 
the platform or the committee board apparently because 
he has a craving for work more exciting and more 
public than his own. The apostle s counsel to deacons 
is applicable, mutatis mutandis, to young ministers : 
" They that have used the office of a deacon well, pur 
chase to themselves a good degree, a good standing, 
and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ 
Jesus" (1 Tim. iii. 13). It were a great mistake to 
suppose that a man s antecedents in his more pastoral 
sphere have no bearing upon his success on the plat 
form or at the committee meeting. There is a secret 
disposition in his favour when he has acquired the 
character of a faithful and laborious minister, that gives 
weight to his counsels and force to his words. Public 
life is far more exposed than private to the influence 
of jealousies and cross currents of various kinds ; but 
nothing is more fitted to smooth such jealousies, and 
conciliate favour for one who ventures on the public 
arena, than the fact of his having already proved him 
self a laborious worker, as well as a pure -hearted, 
humble Christian, in his own proper sphere. 

Of the more public relations which ministers have to 
sustain, we may notice, as the most important: 1. Ee- 
lation to other denominations of Christians, and par 
ticularly to their ministers. 2. Eelation to his own 


brethren, especially in church courts. 3. Relation to 
public institutions and movements of various kinds, 
local and general, charitable, social, educational, or 
political. 4. Relation to public controversies, which 
may be agitating the community, or to matters of 
public morality. 5. Relation to literature and science, 
especially when these are much used in the interests of 
error, or in opposition to Christian truth. 

1. Relation to other denominations. Between two 
different if not opposite impulses, the conscientious 
minister may sometimes find himself in a difficulty. 
The instinct of neighbourliness will make him desire 
to be as friendly and as cordial as possible with 
ministers of other denominations ; while the impulse of 
faithfulness may somewhat restrain him, under the 
feeling that he is appointed to witness for truths which 
his brethren are neglecting or are even perhaps violating, 
and that his testimony for these truths requires him to 
maintain in public an attitude of isolation from them. 
But it is not stating the case fully to affirm that he is 
appointed to witness for these truths. A barren testi 
mony is like faith without works, a shrivelled, lifeless, 
useless thing. He is not less appointed to commend 
his principles, to endeavour to win the assent of others 
to them, so far as this can be done without concealment 
or compromise of their real nature. The question arises, 
Does a Christian man, and especially a Christian 
minister, best commend the truths which may be said 
to be committed to him, by maintaining an attitude of 
separation ; or by showing a kindly and brotherly spirit 
towards ministers of other denominations, and co 
operating with them so far as he can freely do so ? 

Whatever, theoretically, may be said in answer to 
this question, and whatever may be the state of feeling 


in places overrun with prejudice, there can be little 
doubt that the Christian public and the public at large 
think better not only of the man, but of the principles 
of the man, who meets frankly with his brethren, where 
common action may be held, than of the man who 
stiffly retreats to a position of separation. Where there 
is frank and outspoken sincerity, and where a minister 
bears the character of a thorough and honest man, who 
holds no opinion without cause, and who is both able 
and ready to give an answer to every man that asks him 
concerning it, there is not only nothing lost by cordiality 
and affection, but much is gained. The public, and 
notably the Christian public, have no favour for quarrels 
or coldness among ministers. The points on which they 
differ usually appear less important to the general com 
munity than to those who differ over them. By a sort 
of instinct, bitterness of spirit and bitterness of speech 
are judged by the world to be unbecoming in Christian 
ministers. A minister whose life and character attest 
his earnestness, whose active interest in all that concerns 
the welfare of his own denomination attests his loyalty, 
and who scruples not to speak out boldly and strongly, 
but without bitterness, on suitable occasions, in support 
of the distinctive principles of his church, is much more 
likely to commend his church to the community than 
one who, to show how much regard he has for deno 
minational principles, is distant, and perhaps bitter to his 
brethren. Affectionate cordiality, moreover, supported 
by consistent action, has a wonderful effect in con 
ciliating the brethren themselves. It has been observed, 
times without number, that men who keep aloof have a 
tendency to imagine terrible evil of each other ; but 
that commonly, when brought into friendly contact, 
they are surprised to find how often their prejudices 


were unfounded, and how much they have in common. 
It is seldom that men think alike till they have learned 
to feel alike. Unions are commonly effected in the heart, 
before they are affirmed by the head. Undoubtedly, it 
is one of the most important yet difficult aims a 
minister can have, to keep his heart warm and flowing, 
when many things may be happening that are fitted to 
chill it. But little though it is often heeded, the 13th 
chapter of 1 Corinthians is pre-eminently a minister s 
chapter ; and the Charity that is there enthroned so 
transcendently still reigns, queen of all the graces, and 
worthy to be coveted as the best of gifts. 

2. Relations to brother ministers. The nature of a 
minister s relations to the brethren of his own church 
must depend considerably on the nature of the district 
in which he is situated. If it be a thin rural district, 
the case will be widely different from that of a city 
locality. In general, however, it will be found, that 
while he sustains an obvious relation to all the brethren 
in his neighbourhood, he gets into closer and more social 
fellowship with a smaller number nearer him, perhaps, 
in locality, or in age, or more congenial in tastes and 
habits. In country districts, especially, ministers are 
pretty much thrown upon each other for society, a 
circumstance that has both advantages and drawbacks. 
An unsocial and inhospitable minister, who shuns the 
society of his brethren, and indeed of his kind, is a 
misfortune, and gives too ready occasion to those who 
seek occasion against the servants of the Gospel. 
Where ministers are inclined to social fellowship with 
one another the disadvantage lies in their being so much 
alike, that they learn little of the actual world, with its 
tastes and tendencies, and are sometimes confirmed in 
prejudices and narrow views. 


The more formal gatherings of ministers ought to 
conduce to the increase* both of personal devotedness 
and of professional activity. Some plan should be 
fallen upon whereby iron may sharpen iron, and the 
servant of the Lord may leave the society of his 
brethren, not only with a heart refreshed by pleasant 
intercourse, but with all his activities quickened with 
a more earnest desire to labour heartily in his work, 
and with a more clear perception of the way in which 
he should do so. In country districts, which, from 
their very nature, are more inclined to stagnation, 
where the work of the minister is more uniform, and 
therefore more likely to become monotonous, the 
value of such meetings of brethren can hardly be 
estimated. At such meetings the opportunity presents 
itself to take stock, as it were, of the wants of the 
whole district to consider the prevailing tendencies, 
not only as to belief, but as to practice too ; and to 
concert measures in common by which its spiritual 
health may be improved and its moral temperature 
elevated. It must be borne in mind that our Scot 
tish system, rightly or wrongly, makes no provision 
for the episcopal superintendence of a district, other 
wise than by the action of the united presbyters them 
selves. That which is everybody s business, we all 
know, is apt to be nobody s ; and though it might not 
be becoming in a young minister to put himself pro 
minently forward in the way of calling his brethren 
to new duties, or to unwonted enterprises, he cannot 
too soon begin to take a comprehensive view of the 
state of the whole district in which his lot is cast, 
or to consider the best means of providing for its 

In regard to what is more properly the business of 


church- courts Presbyteries, Synods, and General As 
semblies it is obvious that the young minister must 
feel his way. It may be that he has no inclination for 
such work. The temptation then is to abstain from 
attending the meetings, and undoubtedly the tempta 
tion is considerable when one has other work in hand 
in which one feels that one may be of some use, while 
one has no such hope in attending meetings of church 
courts. Such a practice the practice of staying away 
may arise from one or other of two causes, either from 
the feeling that the business is in the hands of better 
qualified men, and will be better conducted by them ; 
or from the feeling that the meetings are not conducted 
as they ought to be, and that absence is the most con 
venient way of testifying against them. But if the 
former be the view, some consideration ought to be had 
for the depressing effect on those who do grapple with 
the business, which the habitual or frequent absence of 
respected brethren must have ; and if the latter be the 
view, it should be remembered that absence from meet 
ings where one is understood to be present, and for 
whose procedure one is officially responsible, is a mode 
of dissent only to be justified when the circumstances 
are very extreme. 

In connexion with our church-courts, there are 
certain duties which involve considerable labour, and 
there are other duties with which there is connected a 
certain amount of honour. It would be unbecoming 
in younger members to aspire to the latter without 
having been willing to take a fair share of the former, 
" Juniores ad labores" is a maxim from which there is 
no appeal ; and not only is it in itself proper that work 
involving considerable physical exertion and mechanical 
labour should be cheerfully done by the younger 


members, but it will be found that this is the real road 
to honour the true way not only to influence, but to 
influence cordially acknowledged, and readily sustained 
by others. In point of fact, there is no royal road to 
influence in church- courts. The men who usually 
attain such influence are men who have taken no end 
of trouble men who have come at the beginning of 
every meeting, and waited to the end men who have 
plodded through weary details, and borne the heat and 
burden of many a laborious day. Even shining gifts 
for public speaking do not command this place of in 
fluence, unless they are associated with willingness to 
take trouble. It may be said that, if such be the case, 
there is little chance for any one gaining a conspicuous 
place, unless he have a physical constitution capable 
of enduring the longest and most wearisome meetings, 
and of returning early in the morning, after only half- 
a-night s rest, as fresh and vigorous as ever. And 
possibly this is not very far from the truth. But without 
entailing on men of ordinary, or of hardly ordinary, 
strength a duty which would amount pretty nearly to 
martyrdom, it may be undoubtedly affirmed that no 
man will readily command the confidence of an as 
sembly, in urging any course of procedure, who has 
not taken a fair share of the more ordinary work the 
drudgery, as it may be called by some, of ecclesiastical 
business. This is especially the case when a man 
stands up to object to some important course which his 
more active brethren have proposed. The objector 
may possibly begin by saying that he has not been a 
prominent member in other words, that he has been 
a most irregular attender. The remark is a perilous 
one, for it is as likely to operate against him as for 
him. And in every instance care should be taken 


not to assume an attitude of mere resistance. The 
lowest class of minds are capable of resisting, just as 
the most mischievous of men can place a log across 
the rails and upset a railway train. An attitude of 
mere opposition is essentially weak. Those who offer 
opposition to the plans of others are bound to produce 
better plans of their own, and to give some practical 
security that they shall be efficiently worked. 

" Si quid novisti rectius istis, 
Candidas imperti ; si non, his utere mecum." 

3. Relation to public institutions and movements. In 
this department, as in the preceding, much will depend 
on the nature of the locality. Our institutions may be 
said, in theory at least, to be the results of applied 
Christianity our civilisation is a Christian civilisa 
tion ; and there cannot but be much in the nature of 
these institutions, as well as in the way in which it 
may be proposed to carry them out, that is interesting 
and important in the eyes of the Christian minister. 
It is to be remarked, too, that public opinion has very 
explicitly connected the clergy with certain of our 
institutions, while with other things it is much more 
chary of letting them meddle, and from some it ex 
cludes them altogether. Education, the care of the 
poor, and the management of public charities, have 
hitherto been deemed appropriate to the clergy ; social 
and political movements are in a somewhat doubtful 
category; while from financial, municipal, and parlia 
mentary business they are wholly excluded. This 
decision of the public voice is one with which the 
clergy themselves have little cause to quarrel. The 
fact is, that in our larger communities, the conducting 
of public institutions and movements is not only work 



that may be done by our Christian laymen, but it is 
the very work for which many of them are peculiarly 
adapted. To drag the clergy from the proper duties of 
a calling so laborious and extensive as theirs, to do 
work which our laymen are equally able to do, and 
which forms a wholesome occupation for their leisure 
hours, would be a singularly misdirected policy. 

To such work, therefore, the clergy ought not ordin 
arily to consider themselves called, unless perhaps 
under two conditions. First, when in this way they 
get a door opened to extensive pastoral usefulness, let 
us say, among the inmates of a hospital, or the children 
of a school ; and second, when there is a peculiar call 
to put things as it were on the right Christian groove ; 
when Christianity, instead of being exemplified, is out 
raged by some institution ; or when social or political 
arrangements are adjusted not to the benefit, but to the 
destruction, of the best interests of men. No one, 
surely, would say that Dr. Andrew Thomson of St. 
George s did wrong in leaving the beaten tracks of the 
ministry, to denounce the iniquity of West India 
slavery ; or that Dr. Chalmers did wrong in contending 
for a more Christian mode of providing for the poor 
than that of the poor-law system ; or that Dr. Duncan 
of Euthwell did wrong in establishing Savings Banks as 
a great encouragement to the habits of forethought and 
economy; or that Dr. Adam Thomson of Coldstream 
did wrong so far as he applied his energies to the 
abolition of the monopoly for printing the Bible ; or 
that Dr. Guthrie did wrong in throwing his heart into 
the cause of Eagged Schools ; or that those of us did 
wrong who strove to secure better houses and better 
days for working men. On the other hand, I question 
if Dr. Cartwright did right in turning his energies to 


machinery, although he became the inventor of the 
power-loom ; or Dr. Forsyth, though he invented the 
percussion cap ; or Dr. Bell, though he invented the 
reaping machine. The difference between the two 
classes of cases is obvious. The one involves the ap 
plication of some great law of Christianity for curing 
evils destructive of moral and religious habits ; the 
other involves merely the application of a mechanical 
principle fitted to promote a temporal interest. We 
grant that whatever is fitted to promote human welfare 
has a certain character of sacredness, and may on that 
ground be counted not inappropriate in a minister ; 
but regard must be had to its tendency to draw away 
his mind from the spiritual objects of the ministry, 
and tempt him, as a plain man once said, to make a 
by-job of his people s souls. Work which is merely 
useful, or merely benevolent, but not distinctively 
Christian, is not necessarily suitable employment for a 

On the other hand, it is suitable employment for a 
minister, from the pulpit, from the platform, or from 
the press, to show how Christianity has to do with all 
sorts of institutions, and to urge his people to carry 
it into effect in every relation of life. And here he 
must not be too timid.. He must not avoid the very 
forms of unchristian activity that exist around him. 
He must call on masters and employers to be consider 
ate of their servants, and servants to be conscientiously 
careful of the interests of their masters. He must be 
fearless in rebuking sin wherever it is in mischievous 
activity, and in trying to promote a holier state of 
society, a more truly Christian civilisation. He will 
have to lay his account with considerable ill-will and 
opposition ; let him, on that account, make the more 


sure of his ground, and study the more carefully that 
wonderfully useful rule of the kingdom, " Be ye there 
fore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." 

4. Relation to public controversies and questions. 
Perhaps there is no department of his duty that 
demands more care and pains than this. Controversy, 
and emphatically religious controversy, invaluable 
though it is for quickening the faculties, and intensi 
fying enthusiasm in favour of truth, seems to have a 
marvellous power to elicit the qualities of the old man. 
Even good men are singularly apt to be thrown off their 
guard, and to forget the necessity of guarding tongue 
and temper, heart and head, in the excitement of con 
troversial warfare. The Psalmist s resolution to put a 
bridle on his lips while the wicked was before him 
needs to be remembered, but is too often forgot. Of 
all kinds of writing, the controversial affords the least 
satisfaction to the author in the retrospect, and pro 
bably the largest number of passages which, dying, he 
would wish to blot. The great temptation in contro 
versy is to deal hard hits to opponents. Whether in 
our present fallen condition men will ever be able to 
discuss great religious questions in a thoroughly 
Christian spirit whether they will ever attain the 
needful excitement of their controversial faculties, 
without a corresponding excitement of their keener 
passions whether they will ever come to a pure and 
simple love of truth without love of victory, and a pure 
and simple hatred of error without hatred of opponents 
are questions on which theory might lead us to 
one conclusion, while experience perhaps would force 
us to another. But surely there is room for a much 
more careful self-control than is commonly practised, 
and a much more earnest endeavour to do Christ s 


controversial work in Christ s own spirit. For Christ 
has controversial work for his servants to do. And it 
is remarkable how much, amid the excitement and 
directly hostile influence of controversy, both personal 
and public religion have been advanced. So also, when 
a minister deems it his duty to attack some prevalent 
or popular vice. He may encounter no little opposi 
tion ; but most likely, through God s blessing, he will 
be the means of so stirring the consciences of some of 
his hearers, even of those who are most angry at the 
time, that a great change for the better shall be the 
ultimate result. 

5. Relation to science and literature. It is not 
reasonable to expect that all ministers shall be savants, 
or that every preacher shall be a litterateur. Much 
must be left to taste and natural ability, in the way 
of determining who shall specially devote themselves 
to these methods of serving the cause of Christ. The 
fact is that it is hardly possible for any man adequately 
to discharge the duties of an active ministry, and to be 
at the same time a man of science or of letters. 

It was long ago seen clearly by Chalmers and others, 
that the perils arising to the interests of religion from 
literature and science could not be efficiently met ex 
cept by the creation of situations in which Christian 
men would have leisure for such employment. The 
influence of science and literature at the present day 
on religious opinion and practice the adverse influ 
ence, we may say, in many important quarters is such 
that the Christian Church might well afford to encou 
rage the efforts of any of her sons who were in any way 
competent to wield these weapons on the side of truth. 
Literature, now-a-days, is not the starving profession it 
was last century, when, even under favourable circum- 


stances, authors could aspire little higher than to a 
garret in Grub Street. Men of letters, now- a- days, are 
not the threadbare adventurers that could only hope to 
make way in the world by attaching themselves, in 
dedications of the most obsequious flattery, to the 
chariot- wheels of some noble lord. The products of 
our intellectual chiefs are not now given to the world 
in quarto or folio volumes, in which streams of large 
print flow luxuriously through ample " meadows of 
margin." Quick and hot as sparks from the anvil, 
many of our ablest writers coin their thoughts into 
words, and the periodical press carries them, day by 
day, in tens of thousands of copies, to every important 
centre, and to every remote corner of the land. 

No minister of the Gospel, interested in the cause of 
truth, and aware how subtle many of the influences are 
that obstruct it, can view this state of things with in 
difference. There is a great need at the present day of 
Christian writers of high ability, capable of command 
ing the ear of all classes and circles ; and our people 
should be reminded that, in their prayers to the Lord 
of the Harvest, they ought to keep in view this depart 
ment of the Master s service ; all the more that there is 
no regular provision for training such men, and that 
even if there were, they are raised up, rather than 
trained up, and come to the Christian community as 
special gifts from God. 

What is the best thing to be done for christianizing 
our literature and science at the present day, is un 
doubtedly a difficult problem. Those who make them 
the mere offshoots of their more serious labours, filling 
the Jwrce subsecivce of an otherwise laborious life, can 
hardly expect to be of great service. Literature and 
science have now so many sons who give their whole 


energies to them, that mere dilettanti contributors 
must hold a very secondary place. And it is well 
worth noticing that there is a great jealousy of such 
outsiders among the regular members of the profession. 
A man must have done some good, honest, laborious 
work in literature or science before his name will have 
weight, or his writings influence in these circles. When 
theologians, for example, who are not known to have done 
scientific work, come forward to criticise and blame the 
views of those who have, they are commonly dismissed 
rather contemptuously with the ne sutor ultra crepidam 
argument. There is no circle of savaris where such a 
man as Livingstone will not be listened to with pro 
found respect, just because he has been such a hard, 
fearless, self-denying worker. Both in literature and 
science there is a large amount of professional devotion 
to work, and many instances of self-denying zeal and 
earnestness in it ; and when those who have only played 
a little at such pursuits come forward to do battle with 
such workers, they are met by an intense professional 
prejudice. If much is to be done in the way of chris 
tianizing literature and science, it must be by a class 
of Christian men who shall make the one or the other 
their proper vocation. 

The first duty of the clergy to literature is to culti 
vate that of their own profession. If they do so effec 
tually, they do a great service ; a service, too, that may 
react on the general literature of the country, and secure 
for Christianity more respectful treatment there. It is 
also, doubtless, the duty of a minister to be in some 
degree familiar with the current literature and science 
of the day. If his sermons and conversation show 
utter ignorance of these things, it is little wonder if he 
excites the prejudices of those who are devoted to them. 


Such men feel that he takes no interest in what is in 
teresting to them, and a great gulf immediately separates 
them. But in fact no man who is ignorant of literature 
and science can know what is stirring in educated men s 
minds, or be able to adapt his message to them. It is 
a common belief among many classes of persons that 
in general the clergy know nothing of, and care nothing 
for, anything save what belongs to their own profession. 
They are counted guilty of ignorance and want of sym 
pathy, and in many instances the charge may be just. 
But in those who have had a university training and 
the advantages of close contact with the best culture 
of their country, such ignorance and apathy are inex 

Many examples show that ministers of active mind 
and habits may sometimes aid the cause of literature 
or of science without neglecting the proper duties of 
their sphere. Such men as the late Dr. James Hamil 
ton or Dr. Tristram have done yeoman s service in this 
way. In the lighter departments of religious litera 
ture there is a wide field for able writers, provided 
they rise above that mediocrity which it is hard to 
condemn, yet impossible to encourage. The position 
of a successful author is much to be desired, enabling 
one to command an audience in all parts of the country, 
and to exercise an influence that ramifies in every 
direction. The toils of authorship, in such a profession 
as that of the ministry, are manifold and exhausting, 
but it is one of the great pleasures as well as sur 
prises of life to learn that one has been useful to per 
sons one has never seen, and thrown brightness into 
abodes of whose very existence one has never heard. 



BEFORE concluding our view of the work of the 
ministry, and the qualifications for performing it, one 
great subject yet remains the influence of personal 

Character, as it is one of the most impalpable, so it 
is one of the most powerful moral forces in a well-con 
ditioned society. Built up imperceptibly by slow de 
grees, as the coral reef is built up from the minute 
secretions of the coral insect, and ripening as quietly 
and steadily as the apple which day by day receives its 
fresh touch from the sunbeam, the character of a good 
man becomes a force as sure, and in a sense as irresis 
tible, as that of gravitation. It is a force not to be 
attained by direct aim or effort, but as the indirect 
result of a course of life consistently followed from 
youth to old age. Every church and almost every dis 
trict presents samples of such men, but probably it is 
in times of persecution that they become most con 
spicuous. Polycarp, in his extreme old age, going forth 
meekly to seal with his blood the testimony that he 
had borne so consistently to Christ, is the type of a 
noble army, of whom, as of Daniel, even their enemies 
have had to confess, that no fault could be found against 


them, unless it were in the matter of their God. 
Chaucer, referring, as is commonly believed, to the 
reformer Wycliffe, drew a picture which Dryden ampli 
fied in another connexion : 

"By preaching much, by practice more, he wrote 
A living sermon of the truths he taught/ 

Bunyan has drawn a similar portrait, with his usual 
skill, "the picture of a very grave person hung up 
against the wall ; and this was the fashion of it. It 
had eyes lifted up to heaven ; the best of books in his 
hand ; the law of truth was written on his lips ; the 
world was behind his back. It stood as if it pleaded 
with men, and a crown of glory was over its head/ 

But though it is persecution chiefly that drags such 
men into fame, they are often to be found in ordinary 
times in the quiet retreats of country places, or in the 
less conspicuous congregations in towns. They are 
pillars of the Christian edifice, epistles of Christ, known 
and read of all men. It is not in the ministry alone 
that men of this type are to be found ; old " David 
Deans " is the representative of the class in the ranks 
of the laity. People feel that the very presence of such 
men has all the effect of a sermon ; and infidelity has 
sometimes to confess, that though it can find an answer 
to every other argument in favour of the Bible, it can 
find none to that which is derived from the lives of the 
men who have imbibed its spirit, and consistently fol 
lowed its guidance. 

It is a happy circumstance that this element of 
power does not depend on brilliant talents, lofty posi 
tion, or even great professional skill. It is the crown 
which in the later years of his life the church assigns 
to the faithful minister, whose powers of oratory may 
not have been great, but who has quietly and consis- 


tently done his duty, and shown unswerving allegiance 
to the principles which he has professed. 

Consistency, indeed, reveals in one word the secret 
of weight of character. Conformity of the real to the 
ideal, unselfish and unworldly devotion to the great 
objects of the ministry, singleness of heart in serving 
the Master and seeking the good of the flock, are the 
great qualities which secure this distinction in the end. 
An elastic conscience, a left-handed devotion to the 
interests of the world, the manoeuvres of Mr. Facing- 
Bothways, and the dodges of Mr. By-ends, are utterly 
fatal to it. A man of poor ability and almost childish 
simplicity is far more likely to secure it than the 
cleverest orator and most skilful diplomatist who can 
not forget himself. 

" A clergyman," says Bishop Burnet, " by his char 
acter and design of life, ought to be a man separated 
from the cares and concerns of this world, and dedicated 
to the study and meditation of divine matters, whose 
conversation ought to be a pattern for others ; a con 
stant preacher to his people, who ought to offer up 
the prayers of the people in their name and as their 
mouth to God ; who ought to be praying and interced 
ing for them in secret as well as officiating among 
them in public ; who ought to be distributing among 
them the bread of life, the Word of God ; and to be 
dispensing among them the sacred rites which are the 
badges, the union, and the support of Christians. . . . 
That he may perform all these duties with more advan 
tage and better effect, he ought to behave himself so 
well that his own conversation may not only be with 
out offence, but so exemplary that his people may have 
reason to conclude that he himself does firmly believe 
all those things which he proposes to them, that he 


thinks himself bound to follow all those rules that he 
sets them, and that they may see such a serious spirit of 
devotion in him that from thence they may be induced 
to believe that his chief design among them is to do 
them good and to save their souls ; which may prepare 
them so to esteem and love him that they may not be pre 
judiced against anything that he says or does in public 
by anything that they observe in himself in secret." 1 

It may be useful to notice in detail some of the ele 
ments on which weight of character depends. 

1. In the apostolical enumeration of qualities neces 
sary for a bishop, we find it laid down that he must be 
grave. The fitness of gravity in a minister will be 
evident to all who consider the special object of his 
office. That office, if we speak of it in general terms, 
is for urging on men a regard to the more serious and 
solemn aspects of life ; and the man who has chosen 
this for his life-work ought surely himself habitually to 
exemplify the seriousness which he seeks to impress on 
others. If we describe the office more exactly, in its 
Christian aspect, it is for promoting peace between 
God and man through the sacrifice of the cross ; and 
he who deals in so solemn a business ought to show 
himself habitually in sympathy with it. Unquestion 
ably therefore, gravity or seriousness should lie at the 
foundation, as it were, of the character of a Christian 
minister. But it does not need to be unmitigated 
gravity. For when parties stand to one another in the 
close personal relation of a minister to his people, un 
mitigated gravity is rather a hindrance than a help. 
It has a kind of repulsive effect, especially upon the 
young. A little playfulness of manner in private has 
a wonderful opening effect ; it softens the unapproach 
able solemnity with which the pulpit surrounds the 

1 Buruet s Pastoral Care, p. 2. 


preacher, and establishes a more frank and cordial re 
lation between him and his youthful hearers. The 
play of a harmless humour sometimes proves to be that 
" touch of nature, which makes the whole world kin." 
There is a medium path here between two extremes. 
At one extreme is an excess of frivolity. There are 
ministers who seem to think that as they are compelled 
to be grave in the pulpit, they may make up for that 
by unbounded levity in private. A professional pro 
priety requires them to be serious in public, but to 
show that they are are not tied up by professional pro 
priety, they take pleasure in throwing off all restraint 
and showing themselves elsewhere the most jovial of 
men. But there is a contradiction here which forfeits 
the esteem even of the worldly-minded. Such a course 
indicates a want of belief in those solemn truths which 
make the pulpit a place of such gravity. If the truths 
are real of which the Christian minister has charge, 
they not only demand of him a serious tone in the pul 
pit, but they demand a measure of habitual seriousness 
on all occasions and in all companies. It can never be 
right or becoming in one specially charged with the 
custody of these solemn truths to abandon himself to a 
frivolity which makes him the congenial companion of 
the most careless, unbelieving, and worldly. Even 
worldly men cannot in their hearts esteem the man 
who can lay aside his cloth, as the world s phrase is, 
as occasion may tempt him, and be as completely one 
of themselves as if there were no truth in his sermons, 
no reality in God s wrath against sin, and in the awful 
doom of the sinner. 

For a similar reason, the minister who makes it his 
study to preserve a grim reserve and sombre demeanour 
on all occasions fails likewise to secure the respect he 


might have. With such a man the gravity of the 
clerical character is considered to be an assumed not a 
real manner, a homage to the proprieties, instead of 
the product of a genuine feeling. It is not the arti 
ficial gravity into which a reverend pedant schools him 
self that is a real force in the world, but the gravity 
that results from the true impression on himself of those 
great truths with which it is his office to deal. And 
the minister whose habitual gravity is the result of 
real feeling is much less likely than the other to carry 
his gravity to a morbid pitch. He is much more likely 
to know the proper occasions for the play of lighter and 
more humorous feelings, and to give effect to his nature 
accordingly. He is more likely to know " the time to 
laugh " as well as " the time to weep." A real man, 
obeying real forces, and not merely artificial regulations, 
his very instincts will show him that man s nature was 
not designed to be constantly occupied with the most 
solemn and awful relations of things, and that there are 
occasions in Providence, as well as moods of nature, 
that seem to invite us to a rejoicing and jubilant, and 
even a merry outpouring of the soul. 

" The parson," says George Herbert, " sometimes 
refresheth himself, as knowing that nature will not 
bear everlasting droopings, and that pleasantness of 
disposition is a great key to do good, not only because 
all men shun the company of perpetual severity, but 
also for that, when they are in company, instructions 
seasoned with pleasantness both enter sooner and root 
deeper. Wherefore he condescends to human frailties 
both in himself and in others, and intermingles some 
mirth in his discourses occasionally, according to the 
pulse of the hearer." 1 

1 Herbert s Priest to the Temple, chap, xxvii. 


The remark has often been made, that a vein of 
genuine humour is closely allied to true pathos. The 
orators that have most power to make men weep are 
often those who have also most power to make them 
laugh. The fountain of tears and the fountain of 
laughter lie close to each other. Men of such tempera 
ment have a great faculty of rapid transition from one 
mood to another. Almost at a bound they can pass 
from the lightest humour to the deepest pathos. So 
abrupt sometimes are these transitions that to men of 
ordinary temperament they appear irreverent. In 
many cases such a judgment would undoubtedly be 
harsh. Men of extraordinary mental elasticity are not 
to be judged by the standard of the slowest and stiffest 
natures. At the same time, even a vein of natural 
humour needs, in a minister of the Gospel especially, 
to be kept under control. The time is short, the solemn 
aspects of life are the decisive aspects ; " it remaineth 
that they that weep be as though they wept not, and they 
that rejoice as though they rejoiced not, .... for the 
fashion of this world passeth away" (1 Cor. vii. 30, 31). 
There are other aspects of ministerial deportment 
that this word gravity brings up. It suggests the 
question, Ought a minister to be affable or reserved ? 
Ought he to take elaborate care of his dignity, or leave 
his dignity to take care of itself ? Ought he to mingle 
with society, or to hold himself aloof ? Ought he to 
countenance recreations, and if so, what ? Ought he 
to allow amusements to be carried on in his house, for 
the sake of his family and their friends, or ought his 
dwelling to exhibit a stern protest against all manner 
of worldly vanity, in literature, in dress, in amuse 
ments, in everything, in short, of a lighter kind, that 
is sought after by the age ? 


Into these questions we cannot enter elaborately or 
exhaustively. They are, many of them, so much ques 
tions of detail, that specific rules cannot be laid down 
regarding them, and ministers must try to shape their 
course in each case according to the best judgment 
they can form of the particular circumstances. For 
the most part affability, or at least accessibility, is a 
desirable quality, for frankness encourages frankness, 
and the man who locks up all his own thoughts and 
feelings from the gaze of others as carefully and as 
rigidly as a jailor locks up a prison, is not very likely 
to get his people to throw open their hearts to him. 
Yet, on the other hand, it is not to be desired that a 
minister should throw everything open. It is not for 
edification that he should quite readily place himself 
on a footing of equality with all. People respect a 
minister all the more when he keeps his own place, and 
does not allow persons who are not his equals to as 
sume a tone of equality. This can be done, and by 
genuine and real men, it is done without an artificial 
effort to maintain their dignity. The artificial effort to 
maintain dignity is commonly made by persons who 
lose the respect of the community by weak or foolish 
conduct, and try to save themselves from the effects of 
such conduct by falling back, on occasions, on what is 
due to the character of their office. But there is great 
force in the pithy observation that if a minister cannot 
command respect, he need not demand it. Eespect is 
an unconscious homage ; like the sensitive plant it shuts 
itself up when force is applied. 

As to the question of mingling in general society, if 
it be a matter which the minister has it in his own 
power to determine, and not a question providentially 
foreclosed, we should say that the degree to which 


society should be frequented must depend on the 
answers to such questions as these, What amount of 
time have I to give to it ? What effect does it produce 
on my spiritual and ministerial character does it 
quicken me or hinder me ? And further, am I able to 
hold my own in society, or am I swept down by the 
current ? Am I able to vindicate my views, to tell men 
their duty, to speak a word in season as an ambassador 
of Christ, or is the worldly stream that flows on such 
occasions too strong for me, too strong for my powers 
of conversation, and too strong for my courage and my 
faith ? Duties of a determinate character are not to be 
shirked through a sense of weakness, but are to be 
courageously undertaken in reliance on the strength 
that is made perfect in weakness ; but duties of an in 
determinate character are not to be placed in the same 
category, and a minister of the Gospel who feels that 
he cannot hold his ground in general society, and that 
he is under no obligation to frequent it, will do well to 
appear but seldom on such occasions. 

In regard to recreations, the rule to be followed will 
probably depend on the question whether or not the 
prevalent feeling in regard to them is wholesome or 
morbid in its degree. In our own day, the feeling in 
favour of certain amusements has become so strong, 
that many ministers, who have no ascetical tendencies, 
are feeling it their duty to try to modify it. Intense 
devotion to such things seems to them to interfere with 
those habits of self-control, and devotion to duty, which 
are essential for the Christian life, and to w r hich it is 
eminently salutary to train the young. And in regard 
to the families of ministers, while care should be taken 
not to bind by rules so strict as to produce reaction, 
it is reasonable that in some degree they should visibly 

2 A 


share in that separation from the world to which the 
head of the house, by l\is very office, has devoted him 
self. If the members of the family do not heartily 
sympathize in this with its head, it is difficult, or rather 
impossible, to get the spirit of the household such as 
is desirable. But it is a blessed household in which all 
are of one heart and soul in their attachment to the 
Lord and to his work ; and when the tone of holy 
cheerfulness by which all are pervaded proclaims to 
the world that where Christian love has its reign, and 
where there is pleasure in serving God and in doing 
good to man, life does not need all kinds of artificial 
excitements, and that the sweetest enjoyment is in 
separably connected with the highest duty. "Thou 
lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness, therefore 
God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of glad 
ness above thy fellows " (Psalm xlv. 7). 

2. Another most important element in weight of 
character is openness and straightforivardness. For 
there is nothing more hurtful to the growth of char 
acter than the practice, even the suspicion, of duplicity 
or fraud. Men in any rank of life who try to compass 
their ends by duplicity or diplomacy may be very able 
men, and may be highly successful in their immediate 
objects, but such a course is never compatible with the 
attainment of great weight of character. In the life of a 
minister it is pre-eminently true that honesty is the 
best policy. The duty of aiming at honesty and 
straightforwardness is the more to be kept in view by 
men of facile nature or of obliging spirit, who often 
yield to the temptation to avoid contradicting or hurt 
ing the feelings of those with whom they come into 
contact. They may be brought into fellowship with 
men of various and even of opposite opinions, but in 


consequence of this easiness of mind they may leave 
the impression that they do not differ very much from 
any of them, to the great damage of their own character 
for straightforwardness and honesty. 

It follows that to enable the minister to be straight 
forward, it is of vast importance that he be decided. 
It may be hard to press this counsel on men of naturally 
vacillating temperament. But it is precisely men of 
such temperament that have need to lay it to heart. 
In any position, a vacillating man is feeble and unsatis 
factory. But a vacillating leader is a positive calamity. 
The minister of the Gospel is the leader of his congrega 
tion, and for him to vacillate, in any great question, is 
practically to bring the army to a stand- still, almost to 
proclaim the reign of anarchy. On great questions, it 
is his duty to have his mind made up. And on all 
questions which concern him and his flock, it is his 
duty to aim at distinct opinions, opinions based on the 
great leading convictions which he has been led to hold. 
Thus he shall be able at once to state his opinion and 
to give his reason for holding it. The reason thus 
given being manifestly in accord with the great guiding 
principles of his life, will command respect, if not con 
currence. Strength and decision of opinion, too, faci 
litate frankness of expression, whereas feebleness of 
impression makes one utter one s-self as if one were 
ashamed of one s views. With the greatest possible 
respect for the qualities of our own countrymen, we 
should nevertheless say, that in this quality of decision 
and frankness of utterance, the average Scotchman is 
not equal to the average Englishman. The English 
man is more in the way of speaking out clearly and 
boldly, even when he differs from you, and is better 
able to state his views in those frank and honest 


tones which prevent his opposition from becoming 

Nor does this decisiveness of opinion and character 
necessarily imply bigotry. Bigots there no doubt are 
among those who are most decided and outspoken : but 
there is nothing in such decision and frankness to 
prevent one from feeling kindly, and from judging cha 
ritably in the case of those who are on the other side. 

But while we thus speak of the advantage of frank 
ness in uttering one s views, as well as of having clear 
and decided views to utter, let us remember that the 
basis of all that is truly valuable in this habit is a 
moral basis. It is that attribute which God especially 
demands " truth in the inward parts " (Psalm li. 6). 
It is only when there is inward sincerity that there can 
be any reality in a seemingly transparent manner. 
And that inward sincerity must ever be implored as the 
gift of God, and habitually nursed and cherished, with 
the profoundest sense of its value. For guile in the 
heart, as it is the ugliest blot, and the most destructive 
cancer in any man s character, so it is peculiarly offen 
sive and peculiarly ruinous in the character of a minis 
ter of Christ. Of all functionaries, an ambassador 
should be open and honest. Of all ambassadors, the 
ambassador of Christ should be true and real. The 
whole Bible, but especially the New Testament, makes 
war on guile. " Laying aside all malice, and all guile 
and hypocrisies ... as new-born babes, desire the 
sincere milk of the Word " (1 Peter ii. 1, 2). " Christ 
once suffered for us, leaving us an example . . . who 
did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth " 
(1 Peter iii. 21, 22). One of the first of those whom 
Christ called to follow him was Nathanael, " an Israelite 
indeed, in whom was no guile " (John i. 47). Guileless- 


ness is the characteristic of childhood, but not to be 
put away when you put away childish things. It is 
one of the noblest attributes of manhood. Never does 
man appear so great as when a great intellect and a 
large heart are allied to the transparent and guileless 
nature of a little child. And never does the Christian 
minister come so near to the ideal of his Master, as 
when his whole life, and his whole teaching, are a faith 
ful transcript of his own soul. 

3. A third element of weight of character is a 
patient, calm, reasonable temper. It is an unhappy 
thing when a minister is prone to take offence, or when 
his temper is easily excited by any cause. It is, indeed, 
quite unworthy of a Christian minister to take offence 
at all, or even to appear to notice little things that in 
the world are counted offensive little breaches of 
etiquette, want of proper consideration for him or his, 
inattention to the formalities of society. There is no 
attitude in which a respectable man appears so little, 
as when he is trying to prove that he has not been 
treated with due consideration. Our Lord struck at 
this foolish foible in instructing his disciples, when 
they were bidden to a feast, not to mind though they 
should occupy the lowest place. And whatever may 
be the effect for the moment, a Christian minister who 
gives no heed to such matters will be sure ultimately 
to stand higher than one who fights for his place as for 
life itself. Even where wrong has manifestly been 
done to him, the minister should far rather forgive and 
forget, than cherish a grudge, or manifest coldness. 
On him especially lies the force of the exhortation, 
" As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all 
men." On him pre-eminently it is incumbent to show 
that Christianity supplies for the tear and wear of 


daily life a nobler fund of forbearance than does the 
natural heart. Let him be patient, too, and reasonable, 
when called to deal with the delinquencies of his 
people. I can never forget the words of an employer 
in the West of Scotland, when explaining the principles 
on which he dealt with his men, and through which he 
had been enabled in a large degree to secure their 
regard and affection among other things, " I make it 
a point," he said, " when anything has been done 
wrong, not to scold the workman until he has had an 
opportunity of giving an explanation, for I find that 
after such explanation any remonstrance falls with 
much more weight, especially when it is conveyed in a 
mild and reasonable manner." It seemed to me that 
there was a lesson here for all sorts of persons in 
authority. The calm and patient spirit that habitually 
restrained itself, when there was great apparent pro 
vocation, is a model for the Christian minister. This 
spirit reposes on a deep sense of justice on the one 
hand, and a powerful self-control on the other. It 
knows how liable men are to be unjust who trust them 
selves to express their feelings in the first moments of 
provocation, and how precious in such circumstances 
is the power of restraint. The minister of the gospel 
must ever aim at being a peacemaker, a healer of strife, 
a sweetener of the breath of society, a zealous promoter 
of glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good 
will toward men. Against one very common form of 
mischief-making he will set himself with the most rigid 
determination. I mean the habit of retailing gossip, or 
opening one s ears to scandal. There is no habit that, 
especially in small communities, is so hurtful to the 
Christian spirit. There is nothing more likely to do 
harm than for a minister to listen to the retailers of 


scandal, either personally, or by the instrumentality of 
those who have an inclination towards it. Against 
every such tendency, the utmost vigilance is called for. 
if he needs to know the character of his people, let it 
te from those who have no motive and no pleasure in 
bringing down the character of their neighbours. 

4. We must add a single sentence on the great 
importance of habits of punctuality, accuracy, and 

A minister needs to be exact in his statements. For 
it is both awkward and injurious to his character, when, 
by any exaggeration or colouring, he affords any handle 
for a charge of untruth fulness. 

Further, he needs to be very mindful of his promises 
very careful not to promise unless he distinctly sees 
his way to perform, and deeply impressed with this, 
that though, through the very multiplicity of his duties, 
he may forget to pay a visit or to write a letter he has 
promised the person to whom the promise was made 
is sure to remember it, and very likely to take a serious 
view of the omission. 

A minister needs to be exact in money matters. In 
the great majority of cases, he is subject to considerable 
financial pressure, and the effort to keep all straight, 
the effort to maintain a position for which the means 
are barely adequate, involves a self-denial spread over 
the greater part of his life, that forms an important 
discipline, and that often amounts to real heroism. 
Without such vigilance and care, the battle becomes 
too trying, and once the financial balance is lost it is 
almost hopeless to recover it. The cases are very 
numerous of embarrassment contracted at the com 
mencement of public life, when there is necessarily 
considerable outlay, and when the young minister is 


probably ignorant at once of the expenses of his estab 
lishment and the practical limits of his income, 
embarrassment that has pressed like a millstone during 
all the rest of his career. The matter is all the more 
trying that in many districts the minister s lot is cast 
among those who, not comprehending his difficulty, 
are little likely to help him either with sympathy or 
material aid. 

Let me only add further under this head, that a 
habit of business-like punctuality in all matters, great 
and small, is invaluable to a minister. Let him make 
a point of being in time for every engagement. Let 
him never leave the answering of a letter, which ought 
to be acknowledged at once, to a more convenient op 
portunity, even though it should be a mere invitation, 
or allow minutes of meetings, or records of accounts, if 
he has to do with such, to fall into neglect or arrear. 
Such matters, little though they seem to many, have 
an important bearing on character, and may be placed 
in the category of the minor morals. Exactness in 
them, if not made matter for a fussy and pedantic 
display, raises a minister in public estimation, and 
adds weight to his counsels when he urges his people, 
like the apostle, " to exercise themselves to have always 
a conscience void of offence towards God and towards 

Let it be observed, too, that perfection in punctuality 
is a duty which is almost ever attainable where it is 
sought. There are services and duties without number 
where we cannot be perfect ; where in many cases we 
are wofully imperfect ; depending on states of mind 
and heart which we cannot reach, or which we fail to 
reach, and in reference to all of which we have constant 
need to make the confession that we are unprofitable 


servants. But punctuality is not one of these. There, 
if we take pains, we may do all that has to be done. 
And let us not despise it because it is little : for he 
that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in 
much ; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also 
in much. 

5. Perhaps we ought to add a remark on the import 
ance of a certain refinement of manner meaning by 
this, that which is the result of refinement of mind. 
For though manner in itself may be but of lesser im 
portance, and though manner, as manner, and fine 
manners, as fine manners, are very contemptible, yet a 
certain culture of the outer man is unquestionably a 
fitting result of that long process of culture, both in 
tellectual and spiritual, through which the ministers of 
our Church have to pass. Undoubtedly this is neces 
sary to enable a minister of the gospel to attain the full 
measure of efficiency, in contact with the more culti 
vated sections of the community. It is a pity that he 
should be exposed to disparaging remarks on that score, 
when the cause for such disparagement might be so 
easily removed. A great force of spirituality will 
indeed overbear everything, and undoubtedly it is that 
which is most desired. The true gentleman is not the 
disciple of Lord Chesterfield, devoted to artificial rules 
and fashion ; he is the man of refined sympathies, 
whose soul inspires him with a true refinement, and 
makes him alert to avoid those little roughnesses of 
speech or manner, or those little negligences in dress 
or appearance which create a prejudice against him 
and his message. 

" The parson s yea is yea," says George Herbert, 
" and nay, nay : and his apparel plain, but reverend 
and clean, without spots, or dust, or smell ; the purity 


of the mind breaking out, and dilating itself even to his 
body, clothes, and habitation." 1 

6. But matters such as have now been referred to 
are small indeed compared to the importance of main 
taining, earnestly and diligently, the habits of the 
inner life. The watching of the state of his own soul, 
the guarding against declension and decay, the keeping 
of a keen edge on the conscience, and the maintaining 
of a close and real fellowship with God ; the trimming 
of the lamp of faith, the strengthening of the things 
that are ready to perish, the quickening of zeal, the 
stimulation of all the Christian graces if such things 
are not duly minded, alas for the spiritual efficiency of 
the ministry ! For public bustle and ecclesiastical 
activity will never make up for the want of personal 
fellowship with God, and personal appropriation of the 
blessings of heaven. No minister can be right who 
does not look on the time spent in personal devotion as 
the most important part of the day, giving a complexion 
to all the rest, and determining whether or not any 
saving good may be expected to result from his other 
employments. The Bible read with a direct and 
deliberate application to himself; the mind solemnly 
exercised in meditation on his state, and in prayer to 
God for the corresponding blessings ; the whole work 
of each day spread out before God, and his guidance 
and blessing earnestly sought upon it without such 
exercises, the ministry can be little else than a solemn 
form. In addition to the devout reading of the Scrip 
tures, many earnest ministers find it of great benefit 
to read a portion of some spiritual book, one of the 
fragrant old authors perhaps, and to add to this the 
perusal of some good biography, and perhaps a hymn- 

1 Herbert s Priest to the Temple, chap. iii. 


book. Nor ought the practice which was so strongly 
recommended by Dr. Chalmers, and from which he 
himself derived so much benefit, to be forgot. Once 
a month, while engaged in the active duties of the 
ministry, he set apart a portion of a day for a more 
deliberate and full exercise of devotion. He began by 
asking a blessing on the exercise. He read a suitable 
portion or portions of Scripture. 

" June 1st. Kose at eight ; spent the forenoon in 
devotion, of which the following is the record : Invo 
cation for God s blessing and direction on the exercise. 
. . . Eead the promises to prayer, and prayed for ac 
ceptance through Jesus Christ, and general sanctifica- 
tion. . . . Prayed for knowledge, for the understanding 
and impression and remembrance of God s Word ; for 
growth in grace, for personal holiness, for that sanctifi- 
cation which the redeemed undergo. Thought of the 
sins that most easily beset me; confessed them, and 
prayed for correction and deliverance. They are 
anxiety about worldly matters, when any suspicion or 
uncertainty attaches to them ; a disposition to brood 
over provocations ; impatience at the irksome peculia 
rities of others ; an industriousness from a mere prin 
ciple of animal activity, without the glory of God and 
the service of mankind lying at the bottom of it ; and, 
above all, a taste and an appetite for human applause. 
My conscience smote me on the subject of pulpit ex 
hibitions. I pray that God may make usefulness the 
grand principle of my appearances there. Eead the 
promises annexed to faithful ministers, and prayed for 
zeal, diligence, and ability in the discharge of my mini 
sterial office. Prayed for the people, individually for 
some, and generally for all descriptions of them. Prayed 
for friends individually, and relations. Eead the pro- 


mises relative to the progress of the Gospel and conver 
sion of the Jews. Prayed for those objects." * 

It is difficult to say which part of the process is 
more to be admired the humble earnestness with 
which he sought for himself to be made a vessel meet 
for the Master s use, or the affectionate concern which 
he felt for those for whom individually he pleaded 
before the Throne. While every earnest minister will 
constantly pray for his flock as a whole, and for the 
classes of which it is composed, it is in pleading for 
individuals that he will become most intense, and 
get nearest to God. Nothing helps us or our people 
more than to make them individually the objects of 
supplication. From one to four or five taken daily, 
will enable the minister in the course of a year to 
overtake his whole flock, whether it be larger or 
smaller. What a vast element of power will thus be 
added to his ministry ! 

It was not the splendour of his talents alone that 
made Chalmers the man of power that he was. A great 
part of his marvellous strength was got by the common 
process. Like Jacob, he wrestled with God, and he 
became a prince. The humblest student, if he will but 
trace his footsteps to the throne of grace, may obtain a 
measure of his blessing and of his power. There is a 
sense in which, in the kingdom of God, to be weak is 
to be strong ; to be empty is to be full ; to be poor is 
to be rich ; to have nothing is to possess all things. 

1 Memoirs of Dr. Chalmers, vol. i. p. 288. 




CHRYSOSTOM Hepi le/ooo-wrjs Of the Priesthood. This 
celebrated treatise of the great Greek orator was written 
in his youth, and is in the form of a dialogue between him 
self and his friend Basil, afterwards Bishop of Kaphanea, 
in Syria. Both of them had been called to be presbyters, 
and it seemed as if both were going to accept ; but Chry- 
sostom hid himself when the time came, and Basil was 
ordained alone. The Dialogue is partly an apology for him 
self, and partly an exhortation to his friend. The great 
subject of the treatise is, the dignity and elevation of the 
Christian priesthood, and the high qualifications needed 
for it. If Christ said to Peter, Lovest thou me 1 ? what ten 
der and fervent love, both to Christ and to his Church, a 
priest ought to feel in himself, before he entered on the duty 
of feeding the sheep of God, which he had purchased with 
his own blood ! Chrysostom magnifies the office in the 
highest possible degree, and pleads that the very best and 
ablest men are needed for it, men like King Saul, taller than 
their fellows by head and shoulders. In thus exalting the 
office, he unquestionably gives it a priestly tinge the Chris 
tian priest is far higher than the Levitical, and the offering 
of the one had no glory by reason of the surpassing glory of 
the other. " For when you see the Lord slain, and lying, 
and the priest standing over the sacrifice, and praying, and 
all washed with that precious blood, can you think you are 
yet among men, or that you are standing on the earth 1 
Do you not rather seem to have been carried off to heaven, 


and having cast away all that is earthly, to be gazing upon 
heavenly things with a pure, naked soul? Oh, what a 
miracle ! Oh, what goodness of God ! He that sits on 
high with the Father, is held at that hour by the hands of 
all, and gives himself to those wishing to receive and em 
brace him ! " The same thing is argued from the power of 
binding and loosing. The Father hath committed all judg 
ment to the Son, and the Son hath committed it to the 
priests. " It is madness to despise such government, with 
out which we can obtain neither salvation nor the good 
things promised ; for if no one can enter the kingdom 
unless he be regenerated of water and the Spirit, and as he 
that eateth not the Lord s flesh and drinketh not his blood, 
is deprived of eternal life, and as all these things are per 
formed by no other hands than the priest s, how can it hap 
pen that without their aid any one can either escape the 
fire of hell, or attain the crown laid up in heaven 1 " Such 
high-priestly doctrine shows how little to be trusted even 
Chrysostom was on the power of the ministry. But the 
earnestness with which he urges purity on the priest is 
most impressive, and his burning words can hardly be read 
without setting one s spirit aglow. " It behoves his soul 
to shine out in beauty, so that it may both delight and 
enlighten the minds of the beholders. The offences of ordi 
nary men, as though committed in the dark, destroy the 
perpetrators only ; but the wickedness of one who is con 
spicuous and well known, brings a common injury upon all ; 
all measure the sin, not by the enormity of the deed, but 
by the rank of the offender. It is requisite that the priest 
should be surrounded on all sides by adamantine arms, with 
exceeding cautiousness and perpetual watching on his lip, 
lest any, finding a naked and unguarded spot, should inflict 
a blow ; for all stand around prepared to wound and over 
throw, and these not only enemies and open foes, but many 
professing friendship ; as he proclaims heavenly messages, 
they watch for his halting, for of him they expect extra 
ordinary purity." In the latter part of his treatise, Chryso 
stom dwells on the advantages of learning and speaking 
power, and gives useful counsels on the subject of popularity. 


The last part dwells on the penalties of unfaithful service, 
and in his intense enthusiasm, the orator again gets on 
perilous ground, exalting the office of those who are to 
pray both for the living and the dead, and who offer that 
mysterious sacrifice at the celebration of which he himself 
had seen angels present. With all the faults of this treatise, 
nothing can exceed the earnestness with which it urges the 
Christian minister to seek after the highest spiritual, moral, 
and intellectual qualifications for an office higher than any 
other filled by the sons of men. 

AUGUSTINE De Doctrind Christiand, Liber IV. The 
first three books of this treatise are designed to point out 
how the Scriptures are to be understood ; the fourth, how 
their contents are to be conveyed to others. There is a fine 
balance and completeness in the views of Augustine on 
this subject. The first requisite doubtless is to possess the 
true knowledge, and it is better to utter the true know 
ledge without art, than what is untrue with art. Still it 
is useful to combine the two. This is done in the Holy 
Scriptures, where there is much true eloquence as well as 
divine knowledge. Specimens of Scriptural eloquence are 
given. Three different kinds of style are to be employed, 
according to the nature of the subject the submissa, the 
temperata, and the grandis. Specimens of these are brought 
forward from the Scriptures, and also from Cyprian and 
Ambrose. Eloquence has for its aim to move the feelings. 
He shows how he himself succeeded in dissuading the 
people of Csesarea in Mauritania, from continuing the bar 
barous custom of a three days fight among one another, to 
which they had been long accustomed, and in which many 
used to be slain. He adopted the grande loguendi genus, 
and the people applauded his eloquence vehemently ; but 
it was not when he heard them applauding, but when he 
saw them weeping, that he felt he had conquered. More 
important than anything else is the life of the preacher 
rules of art are nothing to that. In the course of the 
treatise, and again at the close, Augustine very ear 
nestly urges prayer for God s blessing. The preacher is 

2 B 


ever to ask his sermon from God. The hour before he 
preaches, he is to ask that God would help him to pour 
out what he has got, for the good of souls. It is seldom 
that one finds such a combination of good sense and burn 
ing feeling as in this admirable little treatise. 

AUGUSTINE De Catecliizandis Eudibus. This treatise 
contains instructions to a young deacon at Carthage as to 
the mode of dealing with the ignorant, persons recently 
brought from paganism to Christianity. He encourages the 
young man, who was rather desponding about himself, by 
telling him that sometimes the sermons of which the 
preacher thought least were the best. The catechumen was 
to be fully instructed in the historical facts of the Bible 
many of which Augustine rehearses. Out of these the great 
lessons regarding Christ, and divine love, were ever to be 
taught. Counsels are given to the catechumen to abandon 
the society of the world, and join that of the Church, with 
reasons why he should do so. Hints are thrown out as to 
the line to be adopted by the preacher in dealing with 
persons of education, when they came to be instructed. 
Augustine is very earnest in recommending liveliness in 
the mode of instruction, and he goes at very great length 
into an enumeration of the chief causes of that weariness 
which was apt to be felt, and the remedies for them all. 
He concludes by giving two samples of catechetical dis 
courses one long, the other short. These catechetical dis 
courses are not in the form of question and answer ; but 
we know that those to whom they were addressed were 
examined on them. Catechetical instruction had an im 
portant place in the early Church. 

CYRIL OF JERUSALEM Eighteen Books of Catechetical 
Discourses. These contain, first, preliminary exhortations ; 
then discourses on Repentance, Baptism, Christian Doctrine, 
Faith, the Birth, Death, Resurrection, and Second Coming 
of Christ, and the like. As doctrinal treatises, these dis 
courses are of very little value ; but they contain some fine 
bursts of eloquence, and some very powerful practical ex 


eveicev Oratio Apologetica pro Fugd. Several of the dis 
courses of this Father relate to the office of the ministry. 
After being ordained a presbyter by his father, who was 
Bishop of Nazianzum, he fled to the desert, under a con 
sciousness of his unfitness. In vindication, he composed his 
Apologeiical Oration. He expresses himself shocked by the 
carelessness with which so many assumed the pastoral office, 
comparing himself to Peter, who was at once attracted 
towards it and shrank from it "Depart from me, for I am 
a sinful man, Lord." Eeferring to passages in the 
prophets denouncing the priests and shepherds of Israel, 
and to our Lord s denunciations of the scribes and Phari 
sees, he says, " These thoughts possess me night and day : 
they eat out my very strength and substance ; they so afflict 
and deject me, and give me so terrible a prospect of the judg 
ments of God, which they are drawing down on the Church, 
that instead of daring to undertake any part of the govern 
ment of it, I can only think how to cleanse my own soul, 
and fly from the wrath to come, and cannot think that, 
being so young, I am meet to handle the holy things." A 
" Discourse on the Importance of the Priesthood" expresses 
similar views, and dwells on the necessity of the priest 
knowing how differently to treat men and women, married 
and unmarried, cheerful and melancholy, educated and un 
educated. Gregory was one of those who are rightly 
affected by a sense of their own unfitness, without having 
a sufficiently lively trust in the promise " My grace is 
sufficient for thee." 

JEROME Epistle to Nepotian. The term " clericus " or 
clerk, which signifies a lot or portion, imports either that 
the clergy are God s portion, or that God is theirs, and that 
therefore they ought to possess God, and be possessed of 
Him. This portion ought to satisfy them. They must not 
seek after gain. They must not fawn on rich women, and 
get legacies left them. The priest must be diligent in the 
study of the Scriptures. In preaching he should study to 
draw groans rather than applause, and count tears the best 


commendation of his sermon. He must care for the poor, 
and by every means avoid the scandal of the age, the 
luxurious living of the clergy. He must govern his tongue 
with great care even listening to scandal was wrong. He 
ought to visit his people ; but not to report in one place 
what he saw in another. He should visit them in their 
adversity rather than their prosperity, and not go often to 
their feasts. Jerome concludes by protesting that he made 
no personal allusions ; but if any one found the cap fit, he 
might put it on it would be a proof that he was guilty. 

ST. BERNARD Tmctatus de Moribus et Offido Episco- 
porum (12th century). A very good treatise for the time ; 
designed to rebuke the worldliness, luxury, and other 
sins, of which the bishops were so guilty, and to promote 
humility, heavenliness, self-denial, charity. Another 
treatise, Ad Clericos, with the title De Conversione, seeks 
to show what real conversion was, so different from the 
caricature of it, then so common inter dericos. 

GUIBERT DE NOGENT, an abbot, who died in 1124, left 
behind him a treatise on the proper method of making 
a sermon. WILLIAM, Archbishop of Paris, wrote a book 
called Rhetorica Dwina. HUMBERT DE KOMANIS, a general 
of the order of St. Dominic, wrote a treatise on the Insti 
tution of Religious Preachers. JOHN EEUCHLIN, in 1500, 
wrote Liber Congestorum de arte Prcedicandi, which was well 
received. PHILIP MELANCHTHON published Ratio Rrevis 
Sacrarum Concionum Tractandarum. ERASMUS, in 1535, 
wrote Ecclesiastes, sive Concionator Evangelicus. BORROMEO, 
Bishop of Milan, in 1580, De Instructione Predicatoris. 
CHEMNITZ, in 1583, Methodus Concionandi. See notices of 
some of these and other treatises in Appendix to Kidder s 
Homiletics, pp. 329-331. 

BISHOP PERKINS The Art of Prophesying (1617). [A 
treatise on the only true manner and method of preaching.] 
The second title is in the table of contents, but does 
not describe the treatise properly. The first and chief 


part is exegetical, showing how Scripture is to be expounded 
and applied ; the last two chapters are on preaching, but 
very brief ; one being on memory, which the author does 
not confide much in, deeming it better before preaching to 
commit thoughts to the heart than words to the memory ; 
the other on two things requisite for uttering a sermon 
human wisdom and the Holy Spirit, the former needing to 
be concealed, the latter to be demonstrated or shown. 
Bishop Perkins was the author of an elaborate work on 
Cases of Conscience. 

KICHARD BAXTER Gildas Salvianus ; The Reformed, 
Pastor, showing the nature of the Pastoral Work, especially in 
Private Instruction and Catechising (1656). This work was 
begun as a sermon to be preached at a meeting of brethren 
for humiliation and prayer, December 4, 1655, but Baxter 
was unable to be present at the meeting. In printing his 
observations, in place of a discourse he produced a volume. 
The text is from Acts xx. 28, " Take heed, therefore, to 
yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy 
Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, 
which he hath purchased with his own blood." In urging his 
brethren first to take heed to themselves, he addresses them 
with all his characteristic plainness, urgency, and fervour. 
Then he unfolds their duty to the flock the object of it, 
the flock, as a whole and as individuals, converted and 
unconverted, the young, the weak, decliners, the discon 
solate, the strong, etc., the work itself, preaching, sacra 
ments, prayer, oversight of the members, public discipline 
and reproof, the manner of the work, all for God, 
laboriously, prudently, tenderly, lovingly, etc. ; and then 
follows an elaborate application, in which he very specially 
enlarges on the duty of personal dealing with the members 
of the flock. This he urges with the utmost earnestness 
dwelling especially on the sinfulness of neglecting it, of which 
sin he specifies twenty aggravations. He gives directions for 
the right management of it, and how to bring the people 
to it. The last part of his book contains directions how 
to deal with self-conceited opinionists, and with those of 


whose condition we are between fear and hope ; with direc 
tions to prevent or cure error and schism. 

Baxter was led to dwell on this subject thus fully and 
confidently by the remarkable success which attended his 
own ministry at Kidderminster. A full account of his 
pastoral methods, and especially his catechising, is to be 
found in the " Narration of the most remarkable passages 
in his Life and Times." In his catechisings, he allowed 
none but the family to be present, in case they should be 
restrained by bashfulness. " I first heard them recite the 
words of the Catechism, and then examined them about 
the sense, and lastly urged them, with all possible engaging 
reason and vehemency to answerable affection and practice. 
If any of them were stalled through ignorance or bashful- 
ness, I forbore to press them any further to answers, but 
made them hearers ; and either examined others, or turned 
all into instruction and exhortation. . . . When I set upon 
personal conference with each family, and catechising them, 
there were very few families in all the town that refused 
to come, and these few were beggars at the town s ends, 
who were so ignorant they were ashamed it should be 
manifest. And few families went from me without some 
tears, or seemingly serious promises for a godly life." 

GEORGE HERBERT A Priest to the Temple : or, The 
Country Parson, his Character and Eule of Holy Life. When 
settled at Bemerton, Herbert drew out for his own guidance, 
in a beautifully quaint and quiet, saintly dialect, rules 

The Parson s Life. The Parson Arguing. 

The Parson s Knowledge. The Parson Catechising. 

The Parson Praying. The Parson in his Journey. 

The Parson Preaching. The Parson in Mirth. 

The Parson on Sundays. The Parson in Contempt. 

The Parson s Charity. The Parson s Library. 

The Parson in his House. The Parson Blessing. 

The Parson Comforting. (And sundry other points.) 

Barring a little ascetic and High-Church flavour, it is a 
most delightful and instructive book. Izaac Walton says 
in his Life of George Herbert : " I have now brought him 


to the parsonage of Bemerton, and to the thirty-sixth year 
of his age, and must stop here, and bespeak the reader to 
prepare for an almost incredible story, of the great sanctity 
of the short remainder of his holy life ; a life so full of 
charity, humility, and all Christian virtues, that it deserves 
the eloquency of St. Chrysostom to commend and declare 
it ; a life that, if it were related by a pen like his, there 
would then be no need for this age to look back into times 
past for the examples of primitive piety, for they might be 
all found in the life of George Herbert." 

GILBERT BURNET, D.D., Bishop of Salisbury. A Dis 
course of the Pastoral Care (1692). The author was almost 
heart-broken by the ignorance and incapacity of many that 
came to him for ordination, and grievously distressed at 
the generally low condition of vital godliness, and at the 
handle given to the rising unbelief of the age by the care 
lessness of many clergymen. Hence his treatise, a great 
part of which is naturally taken up with an exposition of 
the true idea of the office, as set forth in Scripture, and as 
asserted by the Ancient Church. The canons of the 
Church, and the views of the Church of England in refer 
ence to the ministry, are fully dwelt on. Proceeding to 
consider the proper training for the pastoral office, he 
divides it into two : the training of the heart and soul, 
and instruction in the various parts of the duty. He 
urges very fully and very earnestly the exercises which, 
with God s blessing, train the soul to the due temper of 
Christ s holy service, and enable a man warrantably to 
express his " trust that he is inwardly moved by the Holy 
Ghost to undertake the office." On the intellectual training 
he is much shorter, but recommends a number of books 
much in repute in his day. As for the duties of the 
ministry, the pastor is to study the Scriptures, chiefly the 
Psalms and New Testament, so thoroughly as to be able to 
explain them without book. He is to take great pains to 
instruct the young ; to catechise ; to explain to the people 
baptism and the Lord s Supper ; to admonish offenders ; 
to visit the sick; to deal with those troubled in mind; 


and frequently visit his parish from house to house. " In 
these visits much time is not to be spent ; a short word for 
stirring them up to mind their souls, to make conscience of 
their ways, and to pray earnestly to God, may begin them, 
and almost end them." " This, I know, will seem a vast 
labour, especially in town, where parishes are large ; but 
that is no excuse for those in the country, where they are 
generally small ; and if they are larger, the going of this 
round will be the longer a-doing ; yet an hour a day twice 
or thrice a week is no hard duty ; and this in the compass 
of a year will go a great way, even in a large parish." A 
chapter is specially devoted to preaching. " The shorter 
sermons are, they are generally both better heard and 
better remembered. ... In half an hour a man may lay 
open his matter in its full extent. ... As to the style, 
sermons ought to be very plain. The words in a sermon 
must be simple and in common use ; not savouring of the 
schools, nor above the understanding of the people. . . . 
In the delivering of sermons . . . the great rule which the 
masters of rhetoric press much can never be well enough 
remembered ; that to make a man speak well, and pro 
nounce with a right emphasis, he ought thoroughly to 
understand all that he says, be fully persuaded of it, and 
bring himself to have those affections which he desires to 
infuse into others. ... As to the reading of sermons, it is 
peculiar to this nation, and is endured in no other. . . . 
Those who read ought certainly to be at more pains than 
for the most part they are to read true, to pronounce with 
an emphasis, and to raise their heads and direct their eyes 
to their hearers. . . . Man is a low sort of creature ; he 
does not, nay, for the most part cannot, consider things in 
themselves, without those little reasonings that must, for 
the most part, recommend them to the affections. That 
a discourse be heard with any life, it must be spoken with 
some ; and the looks and motions of the eye do carry in 
them such additions to what is said, that where these do 
not all concur, it has not all the force upon them that 
otherwise it might have ; besides that, the people, who are 
too apt to censure the clergy, are easily carried into an 


obvious reflection on reading, that it is an effect of lazi 
ness." [He proceeds to recommend a very elaborate pre 
paration of sermons, but without writing or reading.] The 
last chapter is on church patronage. 

M. DE FENELON (Archbishop of Cambray) Dialogues 
concerning Eloquence in general, and particularly that kind 
which is fit for the Pulpit. (From the French, by William 
Stevenson, M.A.) The dialogues begin by considering the 
general principles and rules of eloquence, as practised by 
the classical masters of the art. In considering the subject 
of pulpit eloquence, the common objection, that the sim 
plicity of the Gospel demands that all rules of rhetoric be 
discarded as rather hurtful than useful, is answered, and it 
is shown that rules are needed to make a discourse simple 
and persuasive, and that the style of eloquence, both in the 
Old and New Testament, amply exemplifies the application 
of such rules. Fnlon is against reading sermons, and 
against committing them verbatim to memory. He is also 
unfavourable to divisions. In regard to gesture, etc., his 
great principle is that everything must be removed which 
interferes with the free action of nature. There is some 
criticism of the eloquence of the Christian fathers Tertul- 
lian, Cyprian, Augustine, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Gregory 
Nazianzen, and Basil. He finds much fault with the anti 
thetic conceits of the Latin fathers ; thinks that, on the 
whole, the sermons of the Fathers were not equal to their 
other writings, but that they had a great persuasive power. 
He cannot but admit that their interpretations were often 
most fantastic ; still, as a Romish Churchman, he holds that 
those interpretations which were uniform and universal, 
must be maintained, and that. Scripture is not to be inter 
preted except in harmony with these. For the most part 
there is much good sense and ability in the dialogues, but 
not much depth or power either of thought or feeling. 

CARDINAL MAURY Essai sur I Eloquence de la Chaire. 

CLAUDE Essay on the Composition of a Sermon. (From 
the French.) The author was a well-known minister of 


the French Keforaied Church in the days of Louis XIV. 
In his treatise he considers 1. The Choice of Texts; 
2. General Rules of Sermons ; 3. Connexion ; 4. Division ; 
5. Texts to be treated by way of Explanation ; 6. Texts to 
be treated by way of Observation ; 7. Application ; 8. Pro 
position; 9. Exordium; 10. Conclusion. A very large 
part of the treatise is taken up with 5 and 6. Under 6, 
the author specifies twenty-seven topics which may suggest 
suitable treatment of different texts. Mr. Simeon re-edited 
Claude s Essay in connexion with his own Horce Homileticce, 
with remarks of his own. 

BISHOP WILKINS JEcclesiastes ; or, a Discourse concerning 
the Gift of Preaching, as it falls under the Rules of Art. (8th 
edit. 1704.) A remarkable work of its kind, not so much 
however for the counsels which it gives to the preacher, 
which are formal and scholastic, as for the lists it contains 
of theological works on all departments. There is a very 
full list of commentators on the several books of the Bible 
up to the author s day ; books on Divinity, the Decalogue, 
the Lord s Prayer, the Creed, and on sundry heads of 
divinity, practical and speculative. The Treatise on Prayer, 
which is subjoined, gives a very ample list of subjects for 
prayer, and texts falling under them. 

Bishop Wilkins gives the following list of authors on 
Homiletics, now almost wholly forgotten and unknown : 

HEN. ALSTED Theologia Prophetica. 

FRID. BALDUINI Institutio Ministrorum. 

RICH. BARNARD The Faithful Shepherd. 

BOWLES De Pastors. 

JOH. CLARK Oratories Sacrce 2/aaypa(ia. 

LAMB. DAN^EI Methodus S. Scriptures in concionibus tractandce. 

HEN. DIEST De ratione Studii Theologici. 

DES. ERASMI Ecclesiastes. 


BARTH. KEKERMANUS De Rhetoricd Ecclesiastica. 

GEOR. L^ETQS De Ratione Concionandi ad Method. Anglican. 

WILL. PERKINS Concerning the Art of Prophesying. 

CASP. STRESONIS Technologia Theologica. 

BISHOP CHAPPELLS (supposed) De Methodo Concionandi. 

Jo. SEGOBIENSIS De Prcedicatione Evangelica. 

ABRA. SCULTETI Axiomata Concionandi. 

GUIL. ZEPPERUS De arte audiendi et hdbendi Condones. 


" Besides these, there are above forty other authors, who 
have writ particularly upon this subject, recited by DRAU- 
Dius in his Bibliotheca Classica, under the head of Concio- 
natorum Instruct io, p. 132." 

COTTON MATHER Manducatio ad Ministerium, the Student 
and Preacher. The first work written in America on the 
subject (published about 1710). " The greater part of the 
work," says Kidder, " relates to the scholastic and religious 
character of the preacher, in which high and creditable 
ground is taken. In the brief sections on preaching occur 
the following gems : Employ none but well-beaten oil 
for the lamps of the sanctuary. Go from your knees in 
your study to the pulpit. Your sermon must be such 
that you may hope to have the blood of your Saviour 
sprinkled upon it, and his good Spirit breathing in it. 
Motto for your whole ministry, Christ is all. Be a star 
to lead men to the Saviour, and stop not till you see them 
there. If you must have your notes before you in preach 
ing, yet let there be with you a distinction between the 
neat using of notes and the dull reading of them. Keep 
up the air and life of speaking, and put not off your hearers 
with a heavy reading to them. How can you expect them 
to remember much of what you bring to them, if you 
remember nothing of it yourself 1 Let your notes be little 
other than a quiver, on which you may cast your eye now 
and then to see what arrow is to be next fetched from 
thence, and then, with your eye as much as may be on 
them whom you speak to, let it be shot away with the 
vivacity of one in earnest for to have the truths well enter 
tained with the auditory. " 

DR. JOHN JENNINGS (tutor of Dr. Doddridge) Dis 
courses on Preaching Christ, and on Particular and Experi 
mental Preaching. 

SIR EICHARD BLACKMORE The Accomplished Preacher, 
or an Essay on Divine Eloquence. 

PHILIP DODDRIDGE Lectures on Preaching and the 
Ministerial Office. 


DAVID FORDYCE (Professor of Philosophy, Aberdeen) 

Theodorus ; a Dialogue on the Art of Preaching. 

KEV. JAMES FORDYCE. Eloquence of the Pulpit ; Action 
of the Pulpit. 

THOMAS BLACKWELL, D.D. (Principal of Marischal Col 
lege, Aberdeen) Methodus Evangelica, or an Essay on the 
Preaching of the Gospel ; being Discourses on the Quali 
fications of Gospel Ministers, Methods of Preaching and 
Lecturing, and the Matter of Gospel Doctrines. The chief 
design is to discourage a loose, vague, heterogeneous way 
of preaching the Gospel, and to promote definiteness of 
doctrinal statement, clearness of method, and closeness of 

GEORGE CAMPBELL, D.D. (Principal of Marischal Col 
lege, Aberdeen) Lectures on Pulpit Eloquence. These 
lectures, twelve in number, are characterized by all the 
solidity, manliness, and good sense that belonged to Prin 
cipal Campbell, while they also exemplify a certain cold 
ness and dryness which was hardly less his characteristic. 
There is a great want in them of evangelical flavour, but 
much acute and sensible advice. The topics are Im 
portance of Pulpit Eloquence Helps for the attainment 
of the Art of the Sentiment in Pulpit Discourses of the 
Expression of Pronunciation Various kinds of Dis 
courses Lectures Explanatory Sermons Choice of Sub 
ject and Text Introduction Exposition Division 
Style Conclusion Controversial Discourses Discourses 
addressed to the Imagination to the Passions to the 
Will. In vindication of the minuteness of his counsels, 
Dr. Campbell quotes, with approval, the remark of a po 
pular preacher of his time, " It is much better to preach 
so as to make a critic turn Christian, than so as to make 
a Christian turn critic." 

HUGH BLAIR, D.D. Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles 
Lettres. Five lectures are devoted to Pulpit Eloquence. 


"29. Eloquence of the Pulpit. 30. Criticism of a Sermon 
of Bishop Atterbury s. 31 and 32. Conduct of a Discourse 
in all its Parts. 33. Pronunciation, or Delivery." There 
is a great deal of useful, sensible advice in these lectures, 
but an entire absence of force and earnestness, and of 
appreciation of the special objects of the Christian ministry. 
The eloquence of the pulpit is treated like the eloquence 
of the bar or the senate, having only a more grave subject 
to deal with. 

WILLIAM EDWARDS, D.D. The Christian Preacher ; con 
taining in part or in whole the works of Wilkins, Jennings, 
Franck, Watts^ Doddridge, and Claude. 

GEORGE HILL, D.D. (Principal of St. Mary s College, 
St. Andrews) Counsels respecting the Duties of the Pastoral 
Office, 1803 (republished 1862). Short, sensible, and pur 
pose-like advices on the more ordinary parts of ministerial 
duty, especially as these are to be performed in Scotland. 
The subject is treated with all the calm wisdom, and also 
the want of fervour, that characterized Dr. Hill s school. 

STEVENSON MAcGiLL, D.D. (Professor of Theology in 
University of Glasgow). Considerations addressed to a Young 
Clergyman on some trials of principle and character which may 
arise in the course of his Ministry. 

WILLIAM BRAMWELL The Salvation Preacher. " Bram- 
well," says Kidder, " was a Wesleyan minister of extraor 
dinary power and success." His Salvation Preacher was a 
compilation and abridgment from D Oyly s translation of 
Gisbert s Christian Eloquence. 

ADAM CLARKE, LL.D. Letter to a Preacher on his En 
trance into the work of the Ministry. 

HENRY FOSTER BURDER Mental Discipline; or Hints 
on the Cultivation of Moral and Intellectual Habits. Addressed 
to Students in Theology and Young Preachers. 


J. H. BLOOM Pulpit Oratory in the Time of James I. 

S. T. STOURTEVANT Preachers Manual: Lectures on* 
Preaching, with Rules and Examples for every kind of Pulpit 

W. GRESLEY Ecclesiastes Anglicanus : A Treatise on 
Preaching, as adapted to a Church of England Congregation. 

EGBERT VAUGHAN, D.D. The Modem Pulpit, mewed in 
relation to the State of Society. 

ALEXANDER VINET (Professor of Theology at Lausanne) 
Pastoral Theology : The Theory of a Gospel Ministry. (From, 
the French.) This is a posthumous work, consisting of 
notes taken by students of the addresses delivered to them 
by Yinet. There is a want of methodizing and condensa 
tion, but the work abounds in vivid thoughts, the corusca 
tions of genius, resulting from an instinctive insight into 
the very marrow of truth. The devout spirit of the author 
gives deep earnestness to his counsels, and his ample learning 
enables him to enrich his pages with many apt quotations. 
After discussing the general subject of the Gospel ministry, 
he proceeds on a peculiar plan : " It is to trace several 
concentric circles around the pastor s own spirit, . . . first 
giving rules for his individual and interior life ; then for 
his domestic and social life ; and lastly for his pastoral life, 
including his pastoral, liturgical, and preaching functions." 
To the English edition, published by T. and T. Clark, are 
subjoined Bengel s " Thoughts on the Exercise of the 
Ministry, taken from his Life by Burk " being a trans 
lation of a pamphlet by Vinet in 1842. 

Homiletics; or the Theory of Preaching. (From the French.) 
Like the preceding, a posthumous work ; and subject to 
the disadvantage that instead of the condensation which an 
author s thoughts receive from his revision for the press, it 
contains various expansions of the same thought, from the 
notes of different students. Vinet is too diffuse, too indi 
vidualistic, too poetical, to be an exact teacher. His func- 


tion is higher than that of an ordinary instructor. He in 
spires, quickens, delights. The sharpness and originality of 
his thinking is always remarkable. The chief service of his 
Homiletics is probably that it lays hold of the leading charac 
teristics of the French school of preachers, and gives them 
a Protestant direction and application. The book abounds 
in illustrations and quotations from Bourdaloue, Massillon, 
Saurin, and other great French preachers, as well as from 
Boileau, Maury, Butfbn, and others who have written on the 
subject of Style and Eloquence. Many very valuable 
thoughts may be gathered from Vinet, and on some of the 
minor features of style he is unique. The fresh sparkle of 
genius which pervades his writings on Homiletics and 
Pastoral Theology forms a great contrast to the sober and 
prosy style in which authors generally write on these 
subjects. It reminds us of the avdpiO^ov 

L. F. BUNGENER The Preacher and the King : or, Bourda 
loue in the Court of Louis xiv. (From the French.) A very 
lively work, with all the author s charm of style. The sub 
ject of preaching is discussed in dialogue between distin 
guished men of whom Bourdaloue and the Protestant 
Claude are conspicuous. Claude is represented as bringing 
his influence to bear on Bourdaloue to induce him to 
abstain from flattery and to deal faithfully with the king. 
Boudaloue promises, but has in his weakness begun a flat 
tering peroration when, catching the eye of Claude in 
his audience, he stops and gracefully substitutes the per 
oration that Claude had approved. In fiction, men may 
be made to do anything; it would have been well had there 
been any historical foundation for so graceful a passage. 

REV. CHARLES SIMEON Horce Homileticce : or discourses 
digested into one continued series, and forming a com 
mentary on every book of the Old and New Testament. 
21 vols. 

REV. CHARLES BRIDGES The Christian Ministry, with 


an Inquiry into the causes of its inefficiency, and with a 
special reference to the Ministry of the Establishment. 

This treatise is full of evangelical unction and earnestness. 
Part i. contains a general view of the Christian Ministry 
its origin, dignity, uses, difficulties, comforts, and qualifica 
tions, and of the right preparation for it ; II. Causes of 
the want of success in the Ministry ; in. Causes of in 
efficiency connected with Personal Character ; iv. The 
Public Work of the Ministry Preaching, different kinds 
of Sermons, the Law, the Gospel, etc. ; v. Pastoral Work 
treatment of cases (the Ignorant and Careless ; the Self- 
righteous ; the False Professor ; Natural and Spiritual 
Convictions ; the Young Christian ; the Backslider ; the 
Unestablished Christian ; the Confirmed and Consistent 
Christian) Visitation of Sick, Ministry of the Young, 
Sacramental Instruction, Clerical and Church Communion, 
Assistants ; vi. Eecollections of the Ministry. 

EEV. J. J. BLUNT, B.D. The Acquirements and Principal 
Obligations and Duties of the Parish Priest (1856). A course 
of lectures delivered at the University of Cambridge to 
the students of Divinity. 

ARCHBISHOP WHATELY The Parish Pastor. This 
volume consists of six lectures. I. The Parochial System, 
embracing the chief pastoral duties of the ministry, n. 
Explanations of the Bible, in. Explanations of the Prayer 
Book. iv. On Baptism, v. On the Lord s Supper, vi. 
Christian Moral Instruction, showing the right place and 
great importance of ethical Christian teaching. Dr. Whately 
shows his characteristic dislike of everything priestly by 
using the terms Pastor and Minister, and avoiding the 
terms Clergyman and Clergy. 

EEV. DANIEL MOORE Thoughts on Preaching, _ 
relation to the Requirements of the Age (1861). An excellent 
book, catholic in spirit, warm in tone, and sensible and 
scholarly in its views and execution. The subjects are 
1 . Preaching as an Ordinance of God. 2. The Office of the 


Preacher. 3. The Intellectual Demands of the Present Age. 
4. Persuasion as the Final Object of Preaching. 5. The 
Parts and Arrangement of a Sermon. 6. Style. 7. Sub 
ject-Matter. 8. Delivery. 9. Extempore Preaching and 
the Written Sermon. 10. Supplemental Topics. An 
Appendix is added, consisting chiefly of the views of 
various writers on collateral points. 

REV. JOHN BROWN, D.D. The Christian Pastor s Manual: 
a selection of tracts on the Christian Ministry. Edited by 
Rev. John Brown, Edinburgh. The writers are Doddridge, 
Jennings, Booth, Erskine, Watts, Mason, Bostwick, Newton, 
Scott, and Cecil. 

REV. JOHN ANGELL JAMES An Earnest Ministry the 
Want of the Times. This book is an enlarged edition of a 
sermon preached at the anniversary celebration of Cheshunt 
College. Earnestness in the matter of preaching in the 
manner of preaching in the delivery of sermons in the 
pastorate examples of earnestness motives to earnestness 
means to be used for obtaining an earnest ministry 
the necessity of Divine influence are the topics treated in 
this volume, which is marked by all the directness, point, 
and Scriptural fervour for which the author was distin 

The Church in Earnest a companion volume to the pre 
ceding, dwells on earnestness in personal religion in exer 
tion for the salvation of souls in family religion in 
public duties hindrances, inducements, examples means 
to be used for obtaining a higher degree of piety in the 

REV. DR. WINSLOW Eminent Holiness essential to an 
Efficient Ministry. The expansion of a Discourse on Song 
of Solomon i. 16, delivered at the opening of Stepney 
College, London. 

REV. WILLIAM ARTHUR The Tongue of Fire. Admir 
ably rousing and earnest. 

2 C 


CHARLES J. BROWN, D.D. The Ministry : being addresses 
to Students of Divinity (1872). The subjects of the addresses 
are Connexion between godliness and the Christian 
ministry public prayer preaching ; and in the Appendix 
are some hints on the plan of sermons, pastoral visitation, 
communion-table addresses, and the young communicants. 
The little volume is full of the fire and unction of Scrip 
tural earnestness and affection. The remarks on personal 
godliness, and the hints on public prayer, merit special 

KEY. GEORGE MACAULAY Pastor and People : a Minis 
terial Charge and Directory. (Four Pastoral Discourses, 


M. BAUTAIN (Vicar-general and Professor at the Sor- 
bonne, etc.) The Art of Extempore Speaking Hints for the 
Pulpit, the Senate, and the Bar. (From the French, 4th 
edit., 1867.) Distrusting the old French method of re 
peating, and convinced that the thought has far more 
vitality when the language in which it is expressed is 
coined at the moment of utterance, M. Bautain strongly 
urges extemporaneous preaching. But the qualifications 
and preparations which he demands may well deter any 
one from this method, if he has been led to favour it from 
the idea of its being easy. Natural fitness, acquired know 
ledge, acquired habits, mental, bodily, and spiritual, are 
marshalled in detail among the requisites for successful 
extemporaneous speaking. This is a fresh, able, and inter 
esting book, with hardly anything to offend the Protestant 
reader. The author s tone is devout and earnest. " Oh, 
you who have taken the Lord for your inheritance, and 
who prefer the light and service of heaven to all the 
honours and all the works of earth, you, particularly, 
who are called to the Apostleship, and who glow with the 
desire to announce to men the word of God ! remember 
that here, more than anywhere else, virtue consists in disin 
terestedness, and power in abnegation of self ! Endeavour 
to see, in the triumphs of eloquence, if they be granted 


you, one thing only the glory of God. If you have the 
gift of touching the souls of others, seek one thing only, 
to bring them to God. For this end, repress, stifle within 
your heart the natural movements of pride, which, since 
the days of bin, would attribute all things to itself, even the 
most manifest and the most precious gifts ; and each time 
that you have to convey to the people the word of Heaven, 
ask urgently of God the grace to forget yourself, and to 
think of Him, and of Him only." 

REV. THOMAS J. POTTER (Professor of Sacred Eloquence 
in the Foreign Missionary College of All-Hallows) Sacred 
Eloquence, or the Theory and Practice of Preaching (3d edit., 
Dublin, 1868). This book, like M. Bautain s, is by a 
Roman Catholic author, and presents the subject from 
the English Roman Catholic point of view. It deals more 
than usually in mechanical rules, and dwells for the most 
part on the external aspects of the subject; within that 
circle, it is for the most part sensible and able. The 
illustrations are nearly all drawn from preachers approved 
by the Church of Rome; in English, such preachers as 
Cardinal Wiseman, Dr. Newman, and Archbishop Manning. 
The writer is strongly in favour of written sermons com 
mitted to memory, does not consider reading to be preach 
ing at all, and hopes that no Roman Catholic student will 
resort to it. The leaven of Roman doctrine appears in the 
very first page; "when the poor penitent is kneeling 
at our feet, it is easy for us to reconcile him to his 
offended Maker; but the difficulty is to bring him to 
that point." 


EBENEZER PORTER, D.D. Ledures on Homiletics and 
Preaching, and on Public Prayer, together with Sermons and 
Letters (6th edit.). Dr. Porter was the first Professor 
of Sacred Rhetoric in the Theological Seminary, Andover. 
His work is a copious and instructive discussion of the 


subject of Preaching and Prayer, with numerous illustra 
tions and quotations. He does not take up the subject of 
pastoral duty, strictly so called. 

THOMAS H. SKINNER (New York) Aids to Preaching 
and Hearing. 

DANIEL P. KIDDER, D.D. (Professor in the Garrett 
Biblical Institute, United States) Treatise on Homiletics, 
designed to illustrate the true Theory and Practice of the 
Preaching of the Gospel. There is a great amount of useful 
matter in this volume, though it is somewhat numbered 
by want of simplicity in the arrangement, and by multi 
plicity of divisions. It goes more fully than any similar 
treatise into the literature of the subject, especially in the 
Appendix, which presents us with a list of authors in the 
scholastic and in the modern period, and with a very 
copious and interesting summary of the views of leading 
divines, authors, and churches on the best mode of preach 
ing whether reading, reciting, or extemporizing. 

GARDINER SPRING, D.D. The Power of the Pulpit : 
Thoughts addressed to Christian Ministers. 

WILLIAM G. T. SHEDD, D.D. (Professor in Union Theo 
logical Seminary, New York) Homiletics and Pastoral 
Theology (3d edition, 1867). This is one of the best 
treatises on the subject, whether British or American. The 
combination in its author of the accomplished scholar and 
the humble, earnest Christian, gives it a stamp of great 
value. The author is careful to set before us the principles 
applicable to the various subjects which he discusses, thus 
making his work something more than a mere collection of 
practical advices, a union of the philosophy and the practice 
of homiletics. The principle of generalization is thus fully 
carried out; of detail there is less than in some other 
works, especially in the department of Pastoral Theology. 

NICOLAS MURRAY, D.D. Preachers and Preaching. 


JAMES W. ALEXANDER, D.I). Thoughts on Preaching, 
being Contributions to Homiletics. This is a posthumous 
publication by the well-known ex-professor in the Princeton 
Theological Seminary, afterwards pastor of one of the 
chief congregations in New York. It was his habit to jot 
down from time to time whatever occurred to him on minis 
terial work ; these notes, with a series of letters to young 
ministers, and several articles on the same subject contri 
buted to the Princeton Review, constitute the present 
volume. It is necessarily fragmentary and unorganized. 
The observations are eminently fresh, vivid, unconventional, 
full of practical, historical, and spiritual interest. 

ENOCH POND, D.D. (Professor in the Theological Semi 
nary, Bangor) Lectures on Pastoral Theology (1867). This 
work does not embrace Homiletics, and is perhaps the 
fullest published on pastoral theology; on some points, 
such as the management of revivals, it is very elaborate. 

JOHN A. BROADUS, D.D., LL.D. (Professor in Baptist 
Seminary, South Carolina). A Treatise on the Preparation 
and Delivery of Sermons. Nearly 500 pages devoted to 
preaching alone, the result of much reading and thought. 

EEV. WILLIAM TAYLOR The Model Preacher; comprised 
In a series of Letters on the Best Mode of Preaching the Gos 
pel (1859). Mr. Taylor is one of the most remarkable 
revival preachers of the day, and as such has had much 
success in Africa, India, and elsewhere. The letters were 
originally addressed to his brother, who was a travelling 
preacher in Oregon. The first four chapters are on the 
art of arresting attention, the author having a very great 
regard for " surprise-power." The book is full of anec 
dotes, chiefly of American preachers who were entirely un 
trammelled by conventionalities, and for open-air preaching 
especially, it contains many good hints and counsels. 

EEV. HENRY WARD BEECHER Yah Lectures on Preach- 
ing. Delivered before the Theological Department of Yale Col- 


lege t Newhaven, Connecticut (1872). This is but the first in 
stalment of a three years course. It is confined chiefly to 
the personal elements which bear an important relation to 
preaching. It is not merely an exposition of the author s 
views, but a reflex of his methods. It exhibits both his 
defects and his remarkable excellencies as a preacher. It 
is, as might be expected, unconventional in the last degree, 
and full of the human element, of human sympathy, interest, 
affection, and power. Beech er is the opposite of a syste 
matic teacher. His doctrinal views are not precise, and he 
aims comparatively little at reasoning or formal instruction ; 
his object being to stir the feelings, knock up the conscience, 
kindle the imagination, and shake men out of their supine- 
ness and lethargy. There is much to be gathered from 
this volume, provided it is not read under the impression 
that it is complete. Mr. Beecher s wheels never run in 
ruts, nor do dust or cobwebs gather on any part or product 
of his brain. 

H. C. FISH. Pulpit Eloquence (2 vols.) Being speci 
mens and sketches of preaching in different ages and coun 

Pulpit Eloquence of the Nineteenth Century (1 vol.) 



Vol. xxix. Pulpit Eloquence. 
Ixxi. Parochial Catechizing, 
cii. The Parish Priest. 


Vol. xiv. Morehead s Discourses. 
Ixvii. Whitefield and Froude. 
Ixxii. The British Pulpit. 



Vol. xxiv. Eecent Sermons, Scotch, English, and Irish. 
xxxviii. Modern Preaching. 


Vol. iii. The Preaching for the Age. 

Preaching and Preachers. 

iv. Parochial Life. 

v. Success in the Ministry. 

viii. Praying and Preaching. 

,, x. Preaching adapted to the Times. 

xi. Power in the Pulpit. 

xii. Politics and the Pulpit. 


Vol. ii. South s Sermons. 

Pulpit Eloquence Nathaniel Adams. 

iii. Power in the Pulpit Professor Park. 

American Pulpit W. A. Stearns. 

Chrysostom as a Preacher. 

iv. Schott s Treatise on Sermons. 

vi. Demosthenes and Massillon. 

Keinhardt s Sermons Professor Park 

xii. Relation of Pastor and People. 

See also Essays on the Sacred Ministry, selected from the 
Bibliotheca Sacra and other American periodicals, with a Pre 
face by W. H. Murch, D.D. (London, 1853), containing, 
among other subjects, papers on Literary Enthusiasm 
Importance of Knowledge of Mental Philosophy Know 
ledge of his Times important to a Christian Minister 
Causes of Corruption in Pulpit Eloqu 3nce Boldness in the 
Preacher Discriminative Preaching Connexion between 
Theological Study and Pulpit Eloquence Manner in the 
Preacher Eminent Success dependent on Eminent Piety 
Hints on Extemporaneous Preaching. 



Vol. iii. On the Mode of Catechetical Instruction of 

the Apostles. 
(N.S.) What constitutes a Call to the Gospel 


vi. Bridges Christian Ministry. 
v. Deportment of Licentiates Students of 


x. Expository Preaching. 
xiii. Pastoral Fidelity and Diligence. 
xl. The Pastorate for the Times. 




Adams, Thomas, 178. 
Adaptation in preaching, 82. 
Addison, 150, 269. 
Affectionateness in preaching, 103. 
Alexander, Dr. J. W., 161, 405. 
Ambrose, St., 59. 
American preachers, 72. 
Apostolic preaching, 57. 
Arresting preaching, 84. 
Arnold, Dr., 175. 
Art, Christian, 8. 
Articulation, 241. 
Arthur, Rev. W., 401. 
Attention, power of, 168. 
Augustine, St., 59, 214, 385. 

Baptized children, 295. 
Barrow, Dr., 70. 
Basil, St., 59. 
Bautain, M., 221, 402. 
Baxter, Richard, 69, 127, 389. 
Beauty of style, 141. 
Beecher, H. W., 74, 129, 405. 
Berkeley, Bishop, 232. 
Bernard, St., 61, 388. 
Bible, originality in, 9. 

variety in, 13. 

Bible-classes, 31. 

books for, 305. 

Blackwell, Principal, 39G. 
Blair, Dr. Hugh, 72, 396. 
Blunt, Rev. J. J., 400. 
Bossuet, Bishop, 363. 
Bonrdaloue, 67, 180. 
Bridges, Rev. C., 278, 399. 

Bright, John, 150. 
Broadus, Dr., 405. 
Bronte, Charlotte, 52. 
Brougham, Lord, 150. 
Brown, Dr. C. J., 266, 402. 

Dr. John, 401. 

Bungener, L. F., 399. 
Burnet, Bishop, 363, 391. 
Burns, William, 102. 

Campbell, Dr. George, 396. 
Carelessness in prayer, 254. 
Catechizing, 301. 
Chalmers, Dr., 73, 164, 223, 357, 


Character, influence of, 361. 
Charles n. on reading sermons, 215. 
Children, manner of, 236. 

services for, 296. 
Chillingworth, Dr., 179. 
Choice of texts, 157. 
Chrysostom, St., 59, 214, 383. 
Church courts, 349. 
Claude, M., 184, 393. 
Clearness in preaching, 79, 139. 
Clement of Alexandria, 58. 
Common worship, idea of, 257. 
Communicants, young, 356. 
Conclusion of sermon, 192. 
Controversies, 356. 
Conversational style, 135. 
Conversion, 27. 
Cyril of Alexandria, 215. 
of Jerusalem, 59, 386. 

DANTE, 9. 

2 D 



Delivery, modes of, 213. 

meaning of term, 229. 

Denominations, relation to, 247. 
Devotional services, 250. 
Discipline for preaching, 117. 
Divisions of sermons, 184. 
Doddridge, Dr., 278, 395. 
Durability of impression, 15. 


Eastlake, Lady, 8. 

Edwards, President, 88, 183, 223, 

228, 287, 325. 
Elders, 330. 
Elocution, 231. 
English pulpit, 69. 
Erskine, Ebenezer, 183. 
Expository lectures, 196. 
Extempore preaching, 220. 
Eye, power of, 247, 392. 

Faust, 235. 
Fenelon, 68, 393. 
Fish, H. C., 406. 
Flechier, 68, 178. 
Force of style, 141. 
Franklin, Benjamin, 150. 
Frankness, power of, 368. 
Free prayer, 253. 
French preaching, 67. 
Fulness of style, 145. 
Funerals, service at, 315. 


Gibbon, Edward, 150. 

Goethe quoted, 235. 

Guthrie, Dr. Thomas, 79, 181, 298. 

William, 72. 

Gregory Nazianzen, 59, 387. 

of Nyssa, 59. 

Gravity in ministers, 364. 

HALL, EGBERT, 206, 224, 267. 
Hamilton, Dr James, 360. 
Handel s music, 8. 
Herbert, George, 366, 377, 390. 
Herder, Von, 66. 

Hill, Principal, 397. 
Hullah on the voice, 238. 
Huxley, Mr., 6. 
Hymns in worship, 258. 


Illustration in preaching, 278. 
Inner life, the, 378. 
Institutions, public, 353. 
Intellect, in ministry, 32, 117. 
Interest, in preacher, 95. 
Introduction to sermons, 173. 

Jay, of Bath, Mr., 68, 124, 287. 
Jennings, Dr., 395. 
Jerome, St., 387. 
Johnson, Samuel, 6. 

KER, DR. JOHN, 180. 
Kidder, Dr. D. P., 404. 
Knox, John, 71, 176. 

Lay preachers, 171. 
Lectures, subjects for, 207. 
Leighton, Archbishop, 34, 278. 
Liddon, Canon, 88, 174. 
Literature, 9, 357. 
Liturgy, arguments on, 252. 
Lord s Prayer, use of, 269. 
Lord s Supper, 308. 
Luther, 65, 234. 

MACAULAT, REV. G., 402. 
Marriages, service at, 313. 
Massillon, 68, 224. 
Mather, Cotton, 395. 
Maury, Cardinal, 393. 
M Cheyne, Robert M., 105. 
M Laurin, John, 228. 
Mediaeval preachers, 6. 
Milton, 123, 137. 
Moore, Rev. Daniel, 204, 400. 
Ministry, call to, 20. 
instrument of, 2. 
purpose of, 1. 



Ministry, a living agency, 233. 
Missionary prayer-meetings, 320. 
Monod, Adolphe, 224, 237, 242, 248. 
Murch, Dr. W. H., 407. 

NKWMAN, DR. J. H., 179. 
Newton, Rev. R., 299. 
Novelty, 11. 

Organization of work, 328. 
Origen, 58, 267. 
Originality, 9. 

Pastoral visitation, 2/5. 
Patristic preaching, 58. 
Perkins, Bishop, 388. 
Persuasion an object of preaching, 


Philanthropy, 100. 
Physical qualifications for ministry, 

34, 129. 

Pitt, William, 150. 
Plan of sermons, 163. 
Playfulness qualifying gravity, 364. 
Polycarp, 361. 
Pond, Dr., 405. 
Porter, Dr. E., 403. 
Potter, Rev. T. J., 403. 
Prayer, public, 264. 

faults of, 271. 
Prayer-meetings, 317. 
Preaching, words denoting, 40. 

objections to, 45, 53. 

effective, 76. 

and prayer, connexion of, 256. 
" Preaching prayers," 264. 
Preparation for preaching, 113. 
Pronunciation, 243. 
Proposition, the, in sermons, 182. 
Psalmody, 260. 

Psalms in worship, 260. 
Public character of ministers, 344. 
Pulpit, history of, 56. 
Punctuality, 375. 

Puritan Writers, 200. 


Reciting sermons, 219. 
Recreations, 369. 
Refinement of manner, 377. 
Reformation preaching, 64. 
Reinhardt as a preacher, 66. 
Religious conversation, 285. 
Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 118. 
Reviews, articles on preaching in, 


Revival meetings, 321. 
Ritualism v. Preaching, 3, 62. 
Robertson, Mr., of Brighton, 176. 
Rollock, Principal, 71. 
Rome, Paul s coadjutors in, 330. 
Rue, La, 68. 
Running commentary, 209. 


Saurin, M., 67. 

Savonarola, 63. 

Science, modern, 357. 

Scotch theology and preaching, 51. 

pulpit and preachers, 71. 

voice and speaking, 238. 

Scriptural preaching, 76. 
Scriptures, study of, 120. 

public reading of, 203. 
Shakespeare, 9, 137. 

Shedd, Dr., 162, 200, 283, 404. 
Shorter Catechism, 303. 
Sick, visits to, 288. 
Simeon, Rev. Charles, 399. 
Society, mingling with, 368. 
Social questions, 352. 
South, Dr., 226. 
Spener, 66. 
Spring, Dr., 404. 
Spurgeon, Mr., 123, 225. 
St. Cyran on preaching, 114. 
Stores for preaching, 119. 
Style for pulpit, 133. 
Superville, M., 67. 



Sympathy in preaching, 106, 172. 
Systematic work, 282. 

Taylor, Jeremy, 70. 

Isaac, 326. 

William, 405. 

Temper, 373. 
Tennyson s "farmer," 80. 
Texts, reasons for, 152. 

objectionable view of, 155. 

Theremin, 165. 

Thomson, James, poet, 231. 

Tillotson, Archbishop, 178, 226. 

Todd, Dr., 299. 

Tristram, Canon, 361. 

Uneducated ministers, 33. 
Usefulness, Christian, 336. 


Various faculties in preaching, S7- 
Vinet, 170, 398. 

Week-day lectures, 319. 
Wesley, John, 6, 71. 
Whately, Archbishop, 146, 164, 278, 

284, 400. 

Whitefield, George, 6, 71, 139, 271. 
Wilkins, Bishop, 394. 
Winsorneness, 36. 
Word, the, its place and power, 4. 
Work, organization of, 328. 

useful to workers, 333. 

books on, 341. 
Wyclitte, 362. 






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